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Summary judgment

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Overview Edit

Summary judgment is a pretrial proceedings where the moving party is asking the court to rule in its favor as a matter of law. Summary judgment is proper if

the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[1]

“When applying this standard, [the court must] view the evidence and draw reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.”[2]

A fact is material only if it is relevant to a claim or defense and its existence might affect the suit's outcome.[3] A genuine issue of material fact exists only if "a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [non-moving party] on the evidence presented."[4] A court may not, on a motion for summary judgment, evaluate the credibility of the evidence submitted by the parties.[5]

Moving party's burden Edit

The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial.[6] "[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing' — that is, pointing out to the district court — that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case."[7] To demonstrate that the non-moving party lacks sufficient evidence to entitle it to judgment, the moving party must affirmatively show the absence of such evidence in the record, either by deposition testimony, the inadequacy of documentary evidence or by any other form of admissible evidence.[8] The moving party has no burden to negate or disprove matters on which the opponent will have the burden of proof at trial.[9]

Thus, “[s]ummary judgment for a defendant is appropriate when the plaintiff ‘fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [his] case, and on which [he] will bear the burden of proof at trial.’”[10]

Non-moving party's burden Edit

Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the non-moving party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists.[11] The nonmoving party must identify specific facts, drawn from materials on file, that demonstrate that there is a dispute as to material facts on the elements that the moving party has contested.[12]

The non-moving party's allegation that factual disputes exist will not automatically defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment.[13] It must do more than make "conclusory allegations [in] an affidavit."[14]

[A] mere 'scintilla' of evidence will be insufficient to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment; instead, the non-moving party must introduce some 'significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint.'"[15]

A material fact in dispute appears when its existence or non-existence could lead a jury to different outcomes.[16] A genuine issue exists when there is sufficient evidence on which a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party.[17] Mere speculation by the non-moving party "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact."[18]

In judging evidence at the summary judgment stage, courts must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought.[19]

References Edit

  1. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
  2. Davidson v. America Online, Inc., 337 F.3d 1179, 1182 (10th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
  3. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Assoc., 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).
  4. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).
  5. See Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.2d 1152, 1157-59 (9th Cir. 1999).
  6. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.
  7. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986); see Musick v. Burke, 913 F.2d 1390, 1394 (9th Cir. 1990).
  8. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
  9. See id. at 325.
  10. Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp., 526 U.S. 795, 805-06 (1999) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).
  11. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
  12. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
  13. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (non-moving party "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.").
  14. Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990).
  15. Fazio v. City and County of San Francisco, 125 F.3d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1997), quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 252.
  16. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
  17. See id.
  18. Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985); see also Ash v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 800 F.2d 409, 411-12 (4th Cir. 1986).
  19. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Chaffin v. United States, 176 F.3d 1208, 1213 (9th Cir. 1999).

See also Edit

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