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Summary Judgment: You May Not Get Your Day in Court


If you have a business law case in court, you probably anticipate that if you want to, and if you don’t want to settle or drop the case beforehand, that you will have your case heard by a jury or at least a judge. After all, the legal system is designed so that all of us have our day in court if we want it.

But that’s not always how the legal system works. In some cases, a case can be kicked out before a judge or jury ever hears all of the evidence, and before there is ever a full blown trial. It happens because of a rule called summary judgment. Summary judgment allows a judge to say that no reasonable juror could ever find for one side or another, and thus, there is just no point in going all the way to trial.

Why Summary Judgment?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “anybody can sue anybody” on a number of occasions. Well, the legal system knows that also—it can’t stop one person from suing another person for any reason at all, no matter how trivial or even frivolous. So, that means that there are many cases in the legal system that just shouldn’t be there.

Summary judgment allows the legal system to weed those cases out, ensuring, at least in theory, that only cases where both sides have some credible argument get to go all the way to trial.

How to Get Summary Judgment

Summary judgment can be asked for by either a Plaintiff or a Defendant.  If summary judgment is granted, the case gets kicked out of court; it is dismissed, and the party whose motion was granted, is considered the winner of the case, all without a trial.

To get summary judgment, the party that wants it entered, has to show the court what evidence it would have, if the case ever made it all the way to trial. The moving party does this by showing what evidence it has gathered, and in some cases, by submitting affidavits of potential witnesses, where they say, in the affidavit, what they would say, if they were called as a witness in a full blown trial.

If there is anything for a jury to decide—that is, so long as both sides have some credible reasonable argument and evidence that a jury could hypothetically base its decision on—the motion should be denied, and the case should continue to a full blown trial.

Get Your Evidence ASAP

That of course means that to defeat a summary judgment, and preserve your day in front of a judge or jury, it is imperative to have gathered as much evidence as possible, to show the judge that there is actually something at issue for a jury to decide.

Call our West Palm Beach business attorneys at Pike & Lustig today so you know what to expect in your business law case.




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