If you're involved in a lawsuit, you may have heard the term "summary judgment" thrown around. But what exactly is summary judgment and how does it impact your case?
What is Summary Judgment?
Summary judgment is a decision made by a judge to determine whether a case should go to trial or be resolved without a trial. It is usually made after the discovery process, where both parties have had an opportunity to present their evidence and arguments.
In summary judgment, the judge will review the evidence and arguments presented by both parties and decide if there are any issues of fact that need to be resolved at trial or if the case can be resolved based on the law alone. If the judge determines that there are no issues of fact and the case can be resolved based on the law, then summary judgment may be granted and the case may be resolved without a trial. If the judge determines that there are issues of fact that need to be resolved at trial, then the case will proceed to trial.
How Does Summary Judgment Work?
Summary judgment is typically requested by one of the parties in a lawsuit through the filing of a motion. Either the plaintiff or the defendant can make a summary judgment motion, depending on the circumstances of the case.
For example, the defendant may make a summary judgment motion arguing that the plaintiff has not provided sufficient evidence to prove their case. On the other hand, the plaintiff may make a summary judgment motion arguing that they have presented sufficient evidence to prove their case and that a trial is not necessary.
If both parties file a summary judgment motion, it is known as a "cross motion for summary judgment." In this situation, the judge will hear oral arguments from both parties and then decide which motion, if any, to grant.
What Happens After a Summary Judgment Motion is Filed?
After a summary judgment motion is filed, the other party has an opportunity to respond. The responding party may file their own motion or they may file a written response opposing the motion.
Once both parties have had an opportunity to present their arguments, the judge will review the evidence and arguments and decide whether to grant summary judgment. If the judge grants summary judgment, the case will be resolved without a trial. If the judge denies summary judgment, the case will proceed to trial.
Do I Need a Business Attorney?
If you are already involved in a lawsuit or are thinking about filing a lawsuit, it's important that you talk to a business attorney. Let's schedule a Legal Strategy Session online or by calling my Edina, Minnesota office at (612) 294-6982 or my New York City office at (646) 847-3560. My office will be happy to find a convenient time for us to have a phone call to review the best options and next steps for you in your lawsuit.