Summary Judgment

AuthorPeter J. Boyer
In the business torts litigation world, most cases are resolved before an
opening statement or selection of a jury. A motion for summary judgment
is, in many cases, the pivotal battle in the litigation. Discovery has usually
been completed, preliminary motions addressing venue, jurisdiction, and the
sufciency of the pleadings have been resolved, and the issue remaining for
determination is what claims and issues, if any, will be presented to a judge
or jury for determination at trial. For the defense, summary judgment may
be the last opportunity to avoid a trial on particular claims and issues. For
the plaintiff, it is an opportunity to demonstrate that it has marshaled suf-
cient evidence to persuade a judge or jury that its claims are meritorious
and that it should be given the opportunity to present its case at trial. The
summary judgment determination will inuence important decisions to fol-
low: whether to settle the case and on what terms, and if settlement is not
in the cards or not on the agenda, formulating the plan of attack for trial.
In federal court, the standards applicable to motions for summary judgment
were reshaped by a trilogy of cases issued by the United States Supreme
Court in 1986. In Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
1. 477 U.S. 317 (1986).
Summary Judgment
Peter J. Boyer
Nelson_BizTorts_20140514_15-35 Confirmation Pass.indd 167 8/12/14 10:25 AM

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