top of page

BLOG

  • Writer's picturePeter Lamont, Esq.

The Art of Summary Judgment: How to Win Your Case Without Going to Trial

Understanding Summary Judgment


Summary Judgment

Introduction

Have you ever heard the term "summary judgment" thrown around in legal dramas or the news but found yourself scratching your head trying to figure out what it actually means? Don't worry, you're not alone! If you're involved in a lawsuit or simply curious about legal processes, understanding summary judgment is crucial. In this blog post, we'll break down the concept of summary judgment, explain how it works, and discuss its potential impact on legal cases.


What is Summary Judgment?

Summary judgment is a motion that can be filed by either party in a lawsuit requesting the court to decide on the case or specific issues within the case without going through a full trial. Essentially, the party filing the motion is arguing that there are no disputed facts and that the case can be decided based on the law alone. If granted, summary judgment can result in the dismissal of the entire case or certain claims within the case.


When is Summary Judgment Used?

It's important to note that summary judgment is only appropriate when there are no genuine disputes about the material facts of the case. The purpose of summary judgment is to address legal questions, not to resolve factual disagreements. If there are conflicting accounts or evidence that require a jury to determine the truth, summary judgment is not suitable.


New Jersey Summary Judgment

When it comes to summary judgment in New Jersey, the court rules lay out a clear framework for how this legal tool can be used. According to Rule 4:46, "The court shall grant summary judgment if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law." In other words, if there are no disputes about the key facts of the case and the law is clear, a judge can make a decision without the need for a full trial. This rule helps streamline the legal process and allows for more efficient resolution of cases where the outcome is pretty clear-cut.


The Outcome of Summary Judgment

If a motion for summary judgment is granted, it can have a significant impact on the case. It may lead to the dismissal of the entire case or the elimination of specific claims. This can save time and resources that would otherwise be spent on a lengthy trial. However, if the motion is denied, the case will proceed to trial, where a jury will evaluate the evidence and make a decision.


Example: ABC Corp. Lawsuit

Imagine that a small business owner, Jane, enters into a contract with a supplier, ABC Corp., to purchase $50,000 worth of inventory. The contract clearly states that payment is due within 30 days of delivery. ABC Corp. delivers the inventory as agreed, but Jane fails to make the payment within the specified timeframe.


After several attempts to collect the debt, ABC Corp. filed a lawsuit against Jane for breach of contract, seeking the $50,000 owed plus interest and legal fees. Jane filed an answer to the complaint, denying that she breached the contract and claiming that the inventory was defective.


During the discovery process, ABC Corp. presented clear evidence that the inventory was in good condition when delivered, including inspection reports and photographs. They also provide copies of the signed contract, invoices, and delivery receipts. Jane, on the other hand, fails to produce any evidence supporting her claim that the inventory was defective.


Seeing an opportunity to resolve the case quickly, ABC Corp. files a motion for summary judgment under Rule 4:46. They argue that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute, as the evidence clearly shows that Jane received the inventory in good condition and failed to make the required payment as outlined in the contract.

After reviewing the evidence and hearing arguments from both sides, the judge grants ABC Corp.'s motion for summary judgment. The judge finds that Jane has not presented any evidence to support her claim of defective inventory and that the undisputed facts show she breached the contract by failing to pay for the goods as agreed. As a result, the court entered a judgment in favor of ABC Corp. for the full amount owed, plus interest and legal fees, without the need for a trial.


Conclusion

Summary judgment is a powerful tool in the legal system that allows judges to make decisions on cases or specific issues based on the law, without the need for a full trial. It's essential to understand that summary judgment is only appropriate when there are no genuine disputes about the material facts of the case. If you're involved in a lawsuit or have questions about how summary judgment may apply to your situation, it's best to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your interests.


 

FAQs

When is summary judgment appropriate?

Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine disputes about the material facts of the case, and the decision can be made based on the law alone.


Can summary judgment resolve factual disputes?

No, summary judgment is not suitable for resolving factual disputes. If there are conflicting accounts or evidence that require a jury to determine the truth, summary judgment cannot be used.


What happens if a motion for summary judgment is denied?

If a motion for summary judgment is denied, the case will proceed to trial, where a jury will evaluate the evidence and make a decision.


Who can file a motion for summary judgment?

Either party in a lawsuit (plaintiff or defendant) can file a motion for summary judgment.


What evidence is considered in a summary judgment motion?

The court will consider the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits submitted by the parties when deciding on a summary judgment motion.


How can I oppose a motion for summary judgment?

To oppose a motion for summary judgment, you must present evidence and arguments demonstrating that there are genuine disputes of material fact that require a trial to resolve. Consult with an attorney for the best strategy to oppose a summary judgment motion.


Should I consult an attorney regarding summary judgment?

Yes, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney if you are involved in a lawsuit where summary judgment may come into play. An attorney can guide you through the process, help you build a strong case, and protect your interests.


 

Contact us today to discuss your business or legal matter. Put our 20+ years of legal experience to work for you.

 

For detailed insights and legal assistance on topics discussed in this post, including litigation, contact the Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont at our Bergen County Office. We're here to answer your questions and provide legal advice. Contact us at (201) 904-2211 or email us at  info@pjlesq.com.


Interested in More Legal Insights?

Explore our range of resources on business and legal matters. Subscribe to our podcast and YouTube channel for a wealth of information covering various business and legal topics. For specific inquiries or to discuss your legal matter with an attorney from our team, please email me directly at pl@pjlesq.com or call at (201) 904-2211. Your questions are important to us, and we look forward to providing the answers you need.

Peter J. Lamont is a Top-Rated New Jersey Business Attorney

About Peter J. Lamont, Esq.

Peter J. Lamont is a nationally recognized attorney with significant experience in business, contract, litigation, and real estate law. With over two decades of legal practice, he has represented a wide array of businesses, including large international corporations. Peter is known for his practical legal and business advice, prioritizing efficient and cost-effective solutions for his clients.


Peter has an Avvo 10.0 Rating and has been acknowledged as one of America's Most Honored Lawyers since 2011. 201 Magainze and Lawyers of Distinction have also recognized him for being one of the top business and litigation attorneys in New Jersey. His commitment to his clients and the legal community is further evidenced by his active role as a speaker, lecturer, and published author in various legal and business publications.


As the founder of the Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont, Peter brings his Wall Street experience and client-focused approach to New Jersey, offering personalized legal services that align with each client's unique needs and goals​.

 

DISCLAIMERS: The contents of this website and post are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The contents of this website and the posting and viewing of the information on this website should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for, legal or tax advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. Nothing on this website is an offer to represent you, and nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney‑client relationship. An attorney-client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement.


As with any legal issue, it is important that you obtain competent legal counsel before making any decisions about how to respond to a subpoena or whether to challenge one - even if you believe that compliance is not required. Because each situation is different, it may be impossible for this article to address all issues raised by every situation encountered in responding to a subpoena. The information below can give you guidance regarding some common issues related to subpoenas, but you should consult with an attorney before taking any actions (or refraining from acts) based on these suggestions. Separately, this post will focus on New Jersey law. If you receive a subpoena in a state other than New Jersey, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney in your state, as certain rules differ in other states.


Disclaimer: Recognition by Legal Awards

The legal awards and recognitions mentioned above are not an endorsement or a guarantee of future performance. These honors reflect an attorney's past achievements and should not be considered as predictors of future results. They are not intended to compare one lawyer's services with other lawyers' services. The process for selecting an attorney for these awards can vary and may not include a review of the lawyer's competence in specific areas of practice. Potential clients should perform their own evaluation when seeking legal representation. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page