What is a Motion for Summary Judgment?

A motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Rules of Civil Procedure is brought by either party before a trial of any case. In simple laymen’s terms, it’s a motion in which a party argues to the judge that there are no disputes of fact about a certain issue and because there are no disputes of fact, they are entitled to win.

For example, in Massachusetts there is a law that basically states that if someone is damaged (usually bitten) by the conduct of a dog, then the owner of the dog is responsible. In your dog bite lawsuit, you are able to get the dog’s owner to admit that he/she owned the dog, that the dog got out of the house and it bit you. Well, as the plaintiff you could file a motion for summary judgment asking the court to rule in your favor because the defendant (the owner) can’t show that there’s a dispute that 1) he was the owner, 2) the dog got out, and 3) the dog bit you and caused damages.

Under Rule 56 the judge hearing the motion could rule in your favor and you might not have to have a trial and go before a jury.

For more questions about how a motion for summary judgment could impact your own case, be sure to consult with your lawyer.