Monday, April 14, 2014

Summary Judgment

I have spent most of the morning working on a response to a summary judgment motion.  You really do not want my real thoughts on the motion but here is some language that is helpful.  Where the Defendant swears to one version of events and the Plaintiff swears to an entirely different version of said events, this is sufficient to require denial of a motion for summary judgment. Newell v. Hinton, 556 So.2d 1037, 1041 (Miss. 1990) (citing Dennis v.Searle, 457 So.2d 941, 944 (Miss. 1984)).  See also, Allison, 543 So.2d at 663; Moore Memorial, 538 So.2d at 762; Short v. Columbus Rubber & Gasket Co., 535 So.2d 61, 63 (Miss.1988); and Brown v. Credit Center, Inc., 444 So.2d 358 (Miss.1983).   Summary judgment is appropriate only when the record is entirely, utterly, and completely devoid of evidence on a material issue. If even a shred of evidence-viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Parker v. Harrison County Bd. of Supervisors, 987 So.2d 435, 437 (Miss.2008)-exists that might lead a jury to conclude that an allegation is more likely true than false, then summary judgment is inappropriate, and the case is rightly left to determination by a jury.   Summary judgment is not a tool by which courts distinguish between strong cases and weak cases; it discriminates only against cases that present absolutely no plausible basis in evidence.  Both parties are able to produce probative evidence to support their claims and versions of events. With disputed material facts present, summary judgment is not appropriate.  Lesson to take away, better set of facts do not entitle a party to summary judgment.  A colleague of mine had a case where the judge at a summary judgment hearing opined that the Plaintiff's case was extremely weak and denied summary judgment for the reasons as noted above.  Result at trial:  1.3 million dollar Plaintiff's verdict.  Jury did not think it was weak at all after hearing everything. 

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