What is a Motion for Summary Judgment?
A Motion for Summary Judgment is a pleading filed with an Arizona court where a party is asking the judge to rule on a single issue—or the whole case—without the need for a trial. In order for summary judgment to be granted, 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.
When considering a Motion for Summary Judgment, the Arizona 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), only if the Arizona court makes a finding that no genuine issue of material fact exists can the moving party be granted a judgment as a matter of law. If issues of material fact exist then the Motion for Summary Judgment should be dismissed in its entirety.
Arizona 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.
Statement of Facts and Affidavit
There are two documents filed in conjunction with the motion for summary judgment; 1) a Statement of Facts and 2) an Affidavit in support of the facts.
- Statement of Facts– The statement of facts lays out the facts as the person filing the motion for summary judgment sees them. More than just stating the “facts”, the facts must cite to specific documents that supports that statements.
- Affidavit in Support– Additionally, the person filing the motion for summary judgment must file an affidavit in which they swear under oath that each of the statements they make are true.
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 them to see if they can “chip at the edges” of our lawsuit and see if they can get anything dismissed at this time.
response to the motion for summary judgement
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 three basic ways an Arizona court can rule in response to the MSJ.
- The Arizona Judge may grant the opposing party a judgment summarily dismissing the whole case.
- The Arizona Judge may grant partial summary judgment. Meaning she may dismiss one or some of their requests and allow the others to move forward. The remaining issues will continue moving towards trial.
- The Arizona Judge may completely the opposing party’s Motion for Summary Judgment. If their Motion is completely rejected then the case will continue moving towards trial as if the Motion for Summary Judgment had never been filed.
What If the Summary Judgment is Granted?
If the Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, the judgment on the issue or case is deemed to be a final judgment from which a party may appeal. An Arizona court of appeal can reverse the summary judgment and reinstate the claim in the Superior Court. However, this is rarely done and most summary judgments are upheld on appeal.
It is likely the winning party will be granted an award of their attorneys’ fees and court costs.
If you need help from an Arizona attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at or 480-389-6529 by sending us a message HERE.