Motion for Summary Judgment

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A motion for summary judgment is a judicial motion proper under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (or Rule 661 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure). It is used by parties to a suit when, according to the pleading party, there are no genuine issues of material fact between the parties. The pleading party suggests that, despite the lack of material issues, the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law - that is, even if the facts are undisputed, the other party has the law wrong, and must lose as a result.

Motions for Summary Judgment (or "MSJs") are used to save parties money in litigation, or to escalate costs on the opposing party.

Standard in Federal court

Summary judgment is granted under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A dispute is genuine if the evidence demonstrates that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the party opposing summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986).

The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of “informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party carries its burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue for trial. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585–87 (1986).