What Is A Motion For Summary Judgment?
What is a motion for summary judgment and what happens if the motion is allowed?
When a party moves for summary judgment (here the Defendant) they are “opening the door” for the court to find that “a party” is are entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Stated differently, “[s]ummary judgment, when appropriate, may be rendered against the moving party (here the Defendant). MCPR 56(c). “This is eminently logical. Because by definition the moving party is always asserting that the case contains no factual issues, the court should have the power, no matter who initiates the motion, to award judgment to the party legally entitled to prevail on the undisputed facts.” MCPR Reporter’s Notes. This is why filing a cross motion is unnecessary unless the summary judgment sought is “partial” or limited to an isolated issue(s) in the case.
Anyway, once a motion for summary judgment is filed all parties involved, including the non-moving party (you), can submit evidence to the court that seeks to accomplish one of the following objectives: 1) that there are disputed issues of material fact and thus summary judgment would be improper (a defense), OR 2) there are no disputed issues of material fact and said undisputed facts indicate that the non-moving party (you) is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law (an offensive position). Note that you cannot argue the former and latter as the existence of disputed material facts (argument 1) will preclude the court from allowing summary judgment (argument 2). Also, parties in superior court should be represented by a litigation attorney when possible. The superior court process is very formal and adherence of the procedural rules is essential to success.
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