In this video, our Polk County commercial litigation attorneys explain how Motion for Summary Judgment can seem like a convoluted process at first, but it really boils down to three parts.
Part 1: The filing party presents their version of the facts. A brief called a Memorandum in Support of the Summary Judgment is filed with the summary judgment. The filing party includes information from the discovery process including photos, signed statements, pertinent documents, and any other evidence to back up their argument about the facts. The filing party need not show that both parties agree on every fact in the case (if this were the case then there would likely be no reason to go to trial), or that the filing party’s story is truer than the defendants, just that there are no reasonably disputable facts that are essential to the claim, indicating that there would be nothing for the judge or jury to decide if the trial actually took place.
Part 2: The filing party’s attorney presents his or her arguments in regard to the law. As part of the brief presented supporting the Motion for Summary Judgment statutes and previous court rulings that argue in favor of the motion are cited in an attempt to convince the judge that, according to the law, the filing party should win the case.
Part 3: After the motion and memorandum have been filed the opposing party will file a brief called a Response, making the legal or factual argument that 1) the other party’s claims or defenses are genuinely disputable; 2) despite no dispute against the filing party’s claim, there are other facts or legal considerations which can overcome the motion; 3) established statutory law or case law should not allow the other party to win at trial. After the opposing party has filed the Response brief the original party that filed the motion will have a chance to file a Reply brief, responding to the defense against the Motion for Summary Judgment. Typically, the filing party will have a decent idea of what the opposing party will argue and will already have an argument ready to counter.