In this article, we’ll discuss who can file motion for summary judgment and how the whole process plays out in court. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Summary Judgment Motion?
A motion for summary judgment is when a litigant in a case, either the plaintiff or the defendant, asks the court to end the case without holding a trial. A motion for summary judgment may be filed when one side believes that the evidence gathered during discovery shows that there is no longer any dispute left in the facts. Therefore the case can be decided on the law alone.
So, who can file a motion for 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 by the court relies mainly on the law. Therefore, an attorney who understands the applicable case law related to the underlying claims and can navigate the waters of deep legal research is paramount to filing and winning a summary judgment motion.
Who Can File a Motion for Summary Judgment?
Any party in a case can file a motion for summary judgment through their attorney or cross-motion for summary judgment as part of a response to a motion for summary judgment. This means that the plaintiff, who brought the case to the court, or the defendant, who is defending themselves in the case, may file summary judgment motions to try to bring part of the case, or the whole case, to an end.
In addition, if there are multiple plaintiffs or defendants, sometimes called “multi-party litigation.” Any of the litigants in the case may file a summary judgment motion as to those claims and defenses that pertain specifically to them.
To file a strong motion for summary judgment, a party will want to include facts that cannot be refuted – and these may come in the form of declarations, affidavits, deposition testimony, documents, admissions, and answers to interrogatories. Any such evidence must be accompanied by a statement of facts, which serves as a roadmap to the evidence for the court to review to determine if summary judgment should be granted.
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
A motion for partial summary judgment only attacks some of the issues in a case, meaning that the entire case will not end once the motion is decided. For example, parties may seek summary judgment on some issues, claims, or defenses in a case to help strengthen their position in the litigation and leverage a settlement from the other side. Often a complex case with many claims can be reduced to just a handful of claims when the other side has fired multiple volleys of summary judgment.
Responding to and Opposing a Motion for Summary Judgment
The party responding to a motion for summary judgment by filing an opposition to a motion for summary judgment is trying to keep their claims or defenses alive. So, to successfully defeat a summary judgment motion, the opposing party will want to submit evidence showing that there are still issues of fact in dispute.
Like the filing party, the opposing party will submit a statement of facts serving as a roadmap to their evidence which shows that issues of fact remain. The opposing party hopes that the court will deny summary judgment and allow the case to proceed to a factfinder, either judge or jury. A summary judgment motion is heavily steeped in legal arguments, primarily case law. Working with an attorney expert in researching cases, drafting pleadings, and making oral arguments is crucial for responding to a motion for summary judgment.
What Is a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment?
A cross-motion for summary judgment is basically a recasting or recharacterizing of the facts a party submits for summary judgment to show the opposite outcome is warranted, based on the same or substantially similar facts (occasionally, a few more points will be added). Therefore, a cross-motion for summary judgment is ‘using the filing party’s motion against them’ to achieve the opposite result.
Get Legal Help with Filing a Summary Judgment Motion Today
At the Law Offices of Kretzer and Volberding P.C., our litigation attorneys are well-versed in the procedures for summary judgment and know precisely when to move for summary judgment. Our Texas judgment collection attorneys fully understand how the process works and will do everything in their power to help you. Contact attorneys Seth Kretzer and James Volberding today through our website or phone at 713-775-3050 to get started.