Motion for Summary Judgment

What is a Motion for Summary Judgment?

A Motion for Summary Judgment is a pleading filed where a party is asking the judge to rule the issues in dispute without the need for a trial. This is known as a summary judgment, in that it summarily ends the case before trial. The purpose of a trial is to have somebody — the judge or the jury — decide what the facts are. If the facts are not in dispute, there is no need for a trial.

There must be “no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law”. This means that the undisputed facts presented in a particular case entitle one side to win because of the existing law relating to that issue.

If the facts are not in dispute, there is no need for a trial. Instead the party who believes that the undisputed facts compel a ruling in his or her favor will file a motion for summary judgment. The motion asks the court to consider the undisputed facts and apply the law to them, and argues that the law requires a judgment for the party bringing the motion.

When considering a Motion for Summary Judgment, judges must view all “the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Rowland v. Kellogg Brown and Root Inc. Under Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 56(c), a judgment can be entered only if the court finds that no genuine issues of material fact exist. If issues of material fact exist then the Motion for Summary Judgment should be dismissed in its entirety.

Courts are cautioned not to use summary judgment proceedings as a substitute for trials, the motion should be granted if the facts produced in support of the claim or defense have so little probative value, given the quantum of evidence required, that reasonable people could not agree with the conclusion advanced by the proponent of the claim or defense.

The burden of persuasion on the party seeking summary judgment is heavy and if there is any genuine issue as to a material factual issue is present, the motion should be denied.

Why File a motion for Summary Judgment?

Just because the opposing party filed a Motion for Summary Judgment it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong or they have an extraordinarily strong case where the judge will enter judgment in their favor without even going to trial.

It is quite common for Motions for Summary Judgment to be filed in Arizona cases. In part because a judge can rule on just one aspect of the case. This will allow the Movant to “chip away at the edges” of the lawsuit to see if they can get any of the claims for relief awarded.

Statement of Facts and Affidavit

A Statement of Facts and Affidavit(s) are submitted along with the Motion for Summary Judgment.

  • Statement of Facts– For the movant party, (person filing the MSJ) they must file a Statement of Facts providing the facts of the situation as they see them.
    • Supporting Documents-In addition to just stating the “facts”, each Party must provide documentation that supports their statement facts. When it decides a motion for summary judgment, the court may only consider facts in the pretrial record, such as deposition testimony, affidavits, answers to written discovery requests, documents, etc. It cannot decide which side is more credible than the other. If the court has concerns about the credibility of witnesses or which side to believe, the case should be resolved in a trial.
  • Affidavit in Support– Both Parties must file an affidavit swearing that their statements are true.

responding to the motion

A response to the Motion for Summary Judgment must be filed within 30 days of receiving the motion. A response gives a party the opportunity to respond to the allegations made in the Motion for Summary Judgment. As part of the response, a statement of facts and affidavit must also be filed. Similar to the opposing party’s statement of facts, the respondent must cite a source for every statement made to the court. Doing this is incredibly tedious and time consuming!

RULING ON THE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

There are essentially three way a Judge can rule.

  1. The Arizona Judge may rule 100% against the Party filed the Motion for Summary Judgement. If the Judge rules completely against the moving Party then the case will continue towards trial as if the Motion for Summary Judgment had never been filed!
  2. The Arizona Judge may grant a partial summary judgment. Meaning the Judge ruled in favor of the moving Party on some of their claims but not on all of them. If a partial summary judgment is awarded, then a decision is made on the claims involved without holding a trial but the the remaining issues will continue towards trial.  
  3. The Arizona Judge may rule 100% in favor of the Party who filed the Motion for Summary Judgment. If this happens, if the Judge rules completely in favor of the party who filed the Motion for Summary Judgment then it is deemed to be a final judgment from which a party may appeal. On appeal, the appellate court can reverse the summary judgment and reinstate the claim in the Superior Court. However, this is rarely done because most summary judgments are upheld on appeal. Lastly, depending on the type of case, the winning party will likely be awarded their attorneys’ fees and costs.

If you need help from an Arizona attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at or 480-702-1610 or by sending us a message HERE.

The Dunaway Law Group provides this information as a service to clients and other friends for educational purposes only. It should not be construed or relied on as legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking advice from professional advisers. The Firm limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Discovery in Litigation

What is Discovery of Evidence?

During a lawsuit, each party has the opportunity to request formal “discovery” from the opposing party. The Discovery process is accomplished in a variety of ways, one is to send the opposing party a formal set of requests. These requests each seek different types of information from the opposing party.  

stack of legal documents

Uniform and non-uniform Interrogatories:

Uniform interrogatories are a series of questions that are listed in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Depending on the type of case there is a set of different questions for the opposing party.

Non-uniform interrogatories are questions written by one party to a lawsuit. They send the questions to the opposing party and wait their response.

For example, a non-uniform interrogatory might ask, “Explain in detail why you did not make the payments as agreed”.

Request for Admissions:

“Requests for Admissions” allow one party to present the opposing party with statements that they must either Admit or Deny. They are written in a way so that the responding party must Admit the statement. If the responding party does not respond in the affirmative then they must provide a detailed explanation of why they denied the statement.

For example, a Request for Admissions could state,
“Admit that you entered into a written contract with the Plaintiff”.
“Admit that under the contract you were to pay the Plaintiff $5,000 a month.” “Admit that you did not pay the Plaintiff $5,000 per month”.

A party might deny one of the above statements of admissions by responding. “I deny that I was to pay Plaintiff $5,000 per month because I gave him a parcel of land as payment for the money borrowed.”

The effect of not responding to the Requests for Admissions is quite harsh. Under Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(4) “A matter [request] is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to who the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney.”

Why does it matter if the Requests for Admissions are deemed Admitted? Well, the party asking for the Admissions can say to the Judge, “Your honor, we’ve proven our case and you should rule in our favor. The Defendants admitted there was a written agreement to borrow money and they admitted that they did not pay back the money as agreed. [Refer to my example above].

Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 36(b) does allow a party to file a Motion asking the court for permission to withdraw or amend the admission. “Subject to Rule 16, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment if it would promote the presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on its merits.”

Request for Documents:

We are given the opportunity to request up to 10 different sets of documents from the opposing party. In Arizona, in the Rule 34 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the responding party has 30 days to respond to the request for production of documents.

Lastly, similar to 26.1 initial discovery statements. These discovery requests are not submitted to the Court. In fact, the Judge will never see this information unless specifically and formally introduced as evidence at trial. So don’t worry about impressing the judge, we are simply exchanging all relevant information with the opposing party.

If you need help from an experienced Arizona attorney, then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Uncrewed Aircraft Defined

Determining what is, and is not, an “aircraft” is so important because it determines whether it falls under the purview of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). If it does, then it is held to the same standard as traditional manned aircraft and must comply with all of the same requirements. 

Upon initial review, defining “uncrewed aircraft” seems to be intuitive and somewhat self-explanatory. However, with close examination and careful thought what is and is not “uncrewed” becomes less clear. For example, what if there is not a pilot in the aircraft but the aircraft is being flown by a person standing on the ground, using a remote control? Or must an “uncrewed” aircraft be one that is flown completely autonomously without any human input? 

The plain wording of Article 8 makes clear that the drafters intended “pilotless aircraft” to include aircraft that were remotely controlled, e.g., from the ground (via radio signals); thus, “pilotless aircraft” in the sense that Article 8 refers to an aircraft flown without a “pilot” of Article 32, which provides, “the pilot of every aircraft and the other members of the operating crew of every aircraft engaged in international navigation shall be provided with certificates of competency and licenses issued or rendered valid by the state in which the aircraft is registered”.

When is a uav – “pilotless”?

Defining “pilotless” is of great importance because, “no aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown without a pilot over the territory of a Contracting State without special authorization by that state and in accordance with the terms of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to ensure that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to the Civil aircraft.” 

The term “without a pilot” was later clarified to mean that an “aircraft which is intended to be operated with no pilot on board shall be further classified as unmanned,” Furthermore, “unmanned aircraft shall include remotely-piloted aircraft.” 

An aircraft is not required to be fully autonomous in order to be uncrewed. An aircraft that is controlled by a person is still “uncrewed”, so long as the person controlling the aircraft is not located within the aircraft. For example, a quad-copter- drone that is controlled remotely by a person on the ground is still an unmanned aircraft. RPA as “an [uncrewed] aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station”. 

all aircraft are subject to article 8

All uncrewed aircraft, whether remotely piloted, fully autonomous or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 and inter alia the ICAO. Annex 7 makes it clear that remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), are simply one type of uncrewed aircraft, and all uncrewed pilotless aircraft, whether remotely piloted, fully autonomous, or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 of the Chicago convention. Because RPAS are aircraft, ICAO is responsible for their international air travel. They are held to the ICAO standards.

Somewhat ironically, the Chicago Convention, which is considered to be the magna carta of civil aircraft, never actually defines the word “aircraft”. In 1967, in response to advancements in technology, ICAO re-defined “aircraft” as “any machine that can drive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the are other than the reactions of the are against the Earth’s surface,” 

This change in the definition of “aircraft” came primarily as a response to the invention of “hovercraft”. A hovercraft is a machine that elevates itself off of the ground by pushing in downward to lift the vehicle off of the ground. Because a hovercraft creates lift by pushing air onto the ground it is not capable of “flying” more than a few inches in the air. 

The need for ICAO to redefine one of its most fundamental words, “aircraft” due to development of previously unforeseen technology—the hovercraft—is a perfect example of how quickly technology can change and how it can make prior norms outdated.

The Dunaway Law Group provides consulting to UAS programs across the United States.

Flight Operations Manual

Why Your Organization Needs a Flight Operations Manual
For Your UAV- Drone Program

Flight operations manual will help your organization be more effective, cost efficient, successful, and successful. Its power cannot be overstated. An organized, focused, specific, plan for your UAS program will saves lives, reduces costs, and gives people an actual increased level of protection.

  1. BENEFITS OF HAVING A FLIGHT OPERATIONS MANUAL:

There is an almost infinite number of benefits of having a Flight Operations Manual.

By taking subjectivity out of the situation. You might have someone who is overzealous. Willing to take unnecessary risks. You might have someone who is inexperienced as to the capabilities of the UAS. You might have someone who is not aware of the laws and know what they can and cannot do.

  1. Create a pre-flight checklist.
    1. Just like on a plane.
  2. Standard operating procedures.
  3. What kind of training is required by the UAS pilot?
  4. Who will be in charge of maintaining the UAS?
    1. Who will make the repairs?
  5. What if you want to fly at night? Or beyond VLOS? What do you need to do? Is there someone who can help?

Airforce has a saying that its rules are written in blood. You can build off the experiences and mistakes made by those who have gone before you. Having a written set of guidelines keeps people from taking unnecessary risks, mental errors, keep systems from failing.

WHAT DOES A FLIGHT OPERATIONS MANUAL CONTAIN?

A traditional outline for a Flight Operations Manual will contain. It provides a standardized list of many things including the maintenance of UAV, pilot requirements.

Section 1- Flight Operations Manual: Organization and Administration

An overview of the organizational structure, including responsibilities, duties, and qualifications for all positions and titles within the operation. This section also includes personnel policies, pre-flight planning or checks, ongoing educational requirements, alcohol / drug policy, trip expenses, and record keeping.

Section 2- Flight Operations Manual: Safety Management System

The operator’s SMS, including the various forms, overall processes, and components, forming a continuous cycle of improvement. The Hazard Identification, Tracking, and Resolution System is customized for each operator in both text and graphic format. We can also provide separate files for each of the forms so that you may print / distribute them as needed.

Section 3- Flight Operations Manual: Operating Procedures

The operational control system including Trip Scheduling, Weather, Flight Rules, Performance, Fuel Requirements, Weight and Balance, Aircraft Defects, Use of Checklists and SOPs, Flight / Duty Time Limitations, Aircraft Equipment, and Passenger and Cabin Safety Procedures.

Section 4- Flight Operations Manual: Qualifications and Training

Details of the qualifications and required training for all Flight Department personnel.

Section 5- Flight Operations Manual: Aircraft Maintenance

An overview of the maintenance control system, including, Elements of Aircraft Maintenance, Aircraft Records, Preventative Maintenance, Deferred Maintenance Items / Discrepancy Management, Technical Dispatch, Parts, Material Control, Tool Calibration, Maintenance Arrangements, and Maintenance Safety Programs.

Section 6- Flight Operations Manual: Protection of Evidence

Evidence must be preserved for it to be admitted into evidence at trial.

Section 7- Flight Operations Manual: Company Forms

Samples of the forms referenced throughout the manual. We can also provide separate files for each of the forms so that you may print / distribute them as needed.

FLIGHT OPERATIONS MANUAL WILL BE CUSTOM

To your situation and unique geography. Do you have freeways, railroad tracks, We will send you sections of the manual for review, and schedule development sessions to review each section with key personnel from your department, conducted online at your convenience. After we have completed developing the manual you issue a copy of the full manual for your review “review draft”.

ONCE CREATED IT CAN BE A TEMPLATE

Of course, your needs and technology will change the needs of your UAS program overtime and the FOM can be updated for those changes. But the FOM will be a platform to build off of. This is why things needs to start off right. So that 10, 20, 30 years from now you aren’t trying to correct mistakes that have already been made.

How easy is it to straighten a tree when it is small? It can be done with a small wire, however, once a tree reaches a certain size it become almost impossible to straighten it.

Do you have an off-the-shelf flight operation’s manual?

While there may be common elements between each operators’ manual, the intent of the manual is to reflect your particular operation. Therefore, the manual will be unique. While a boilerplate manual is better than no manual the best part about creating your own is that it is specifically describes and details your operation.

GO – NO GO INSTRUCTIONS Operator-provided content, aircraft-specific SOPs, expanded Winter Operations, etc., may be included in Appendices. High-speed car chases.

If you need help from an experienced Arizona attorney, then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.