What is Summary Judgment?
Summary Judgment is a pretrial motion that one party can file against another asking for part or all the claim from the opposite party to be dismissed. A "motion" is simply a written or oral request made by one party to a lawsuit, asking the court to make a ruling, or issue an order.
What You Must Prove
In order to successfully file a motion for summary judgment, the party filing the motion must show that there are no genuine issues of material fact, and as a matter of law, the other party is not entitled to any relief. In other words, the person filing a motion for summary judgment must show that there is no legal or factual issue in the case, and that the case should be dismissed.
This can be in response to a complaint filed in court, or it could be in response to a defense that a defendant raises in a case.
In many summary judgment motions, the issue is not so much whether or not a party has a legal right to make a claim, but instead, whether there was a genuine issue of material fact. Attorneys like to hang on certain words, and in this case, we will focus on the term "material." Why we are on the subject, we can focus in on the term "genuine."
The term "material" simply means that the factual dispute must make a difference in the outcome of the case. Many parties will have different versions of what happened, but in less these disputes are outcome determinative, they are not material factual disputes.
The dispute also has to be "genuine." This means that a party cannot invent a factual dispute. For example, there is a certain line of cases that prohibits a party from contradicting a prior statement or admission by putting together an affidavit in an effort to create a factual dispute. This is not a genuine factual dispute.
How Do Oregon Courts Approach Summary Judgment?
The Oregon Court of Appeals, and the Oregon Supreme Court disfavor granting motions for summary judgment. If there is any factual dispute whatsoever, the policy of these courts is to allow the party to have their say in front of the jury or a court. Some lawyers feel that federal courts are much more willing to consider a motion for summary judgment, even though the federal and state version of each rule is very similar.
Oregon injury claims do not often include motions for summary judgment. However, if you have a claim, and have questions about issues surrounding litigation, call us at 503-325-8600. We have litigated claims in Oregon and Washington state and federal courts, and can share experience.