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What Does It Mean When The Defense Files A Motion For Summary Judgment?

The parties occasionally file motions for summary judgment with the court in New Orleans personal injury lawsuits.  The filing of such a motion means that one of the parties believes that there are facts in their favor that are beyond dispute.  If the court agrees, the court will rule on the issue without need for a trial.  A motion for summary judgment may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant.

When presenting this motion, the party is arguing that no “genuine issue of material fact” exists that is worthy of being heard at a full trial.  In legal terms, a fact is “material” in a personal injury lawsuit when it is essential to the plaintiff’s theory of recovery. A “genuine issue of material fact” means that reasonable people could disagree about the fact being considered.  When there is a genuine issue, a determination is properly left to the jury or judge after a full trial.

Occasionally, however, a case will involve a material fact about which, based on the evidence, only one conclusion could be reached.  When making a motion for summary judgment, the initial burden is on the moving party to show that, based on the evidence available, no real issue exists.  Once this is done, the burden is then on the other party to present evidence showing that an issue actually does exist. If the other party is unable to do so, the court will grant the motion.

In personal injury lawsuits, it is unusual for issues of negligence to be decided by summary judgment.  In cases where reasonable people could not possibly differ, however, it can occur.

If you have suffered an injury due to another’s negligence and have any questions, we would be happy to help you. Please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.