Summary Adjudication vs. Summary Judgment: When to Use One Over the Other

Summary Adjudication vs. Summary Judgment: When to Use One Over the Other

When considering summary judgment vs. summary adjudication as trial strategies, you should consult with Texas lawyers who possess the resources and knowledge of these nuanced procedural techniques to help you. Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of summary adjudication and summary judgment.

The Difference between Summary Adjudication and Summary Judgment

Summary adjudication differs from summary judgment in that it resolves selected issues rather than the entire case before the court. Only a portion of the case has been determined where summary adjudication has occurred, and the case is still bound for trial.

What Is Summary Adjudication?

Like summary judgment, summary adjudication occurs before a trial. A motion for summary adjudication is a procedural device that allows a court to determine the merits of a particular claim, affirmative defense, amount of damages, or issue of duty. Once one of these issues has been summarily adjudicated, it is fixed in place come the time of trial and cannot be left to the judge’s or the jury’s determination. However, summary adjudication disposes of just one aspect of the litigation rather than the whole case and is highly limited in this regard.

Benefits and Implications

The benefits of summary adjudication, when it is a viable option that can be pursued, include:

  • Saving on the expenses of a trial, for example, the high costs of trial preparation and expert witnesses
  • Aiding in early case resolution
  • Providing litigants an early opportunity to prevail
  • Narrowing the key issues which are left to be submitted to a factfinder
  • Forcing the other side to show its best evidence
  • Aiding in or providing a practice run for trial preparation
  • Leveraging a settlement position in a case

The disadvantages of summary adjudication include:

  • Increasing litigation costs with additional, and perhaps unnecessary and protracted motion practice
  • A substantial risk of defeat
  • Weakening a filing party’s settlement position
  • Educating the adversary about the case’s strengths and weaknesses by putting both on the line
  • Generating evidence that may be useful to the other side
  • Facing de novo review on appeal, which could favor the opposing side
  • Subjecting critical issues in the case to reconsideration

What Is Summary Judgment?

In Texas, summary judgment motions can be filed by any party in a case under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 166a to bring an end to claims, counterclaims, or cross-claims. A summary judgment determination relies heavily on case law, wherein one party tries to prove with evidence that no facts remain in dispute by the parties. Or, put another way, that the parties agree on all of the facts and only questions of law remain between them, which a judge can decide. Unlike summary adjudication, summary judgment is total and brings much more comprehensive finality to a claim or defense, if not the entire party’s case.

Benefits and Implications

The benefits and implications of summary judgment are similar to the advantages and disadvantages of summary adjudication, which are described in detail above.

Which One Should You Use?

Summary adjudication is undoubtedly a safer move for a litigant than summary judgment. It brings resolution only to certain aspects of a case without putting an end to the case as a whole.

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Trust the Summary Judgment Lawyers at the Law Offices of Kretzer and Volberding P.C.

For the best summary judgment lawyers who understand the differences between summary adjudication and summary judgment and when to apply for each, contact attorneys Seth Kretzer and James Volberding today through our website or by phone at 713-775-3050. These attorneys are on your side and know how to help you get the best possible outcome in your case!

Phone: 713-775-3050
Fax: 713-929-2019
Houston, TX 77002
440 Louisiana, Suite 1440