Legal Memorandum: Appropriateness of Summary Judgment

Issue: Who bears the burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be decided in a summary judgment matter?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Genuine issues of material fact
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 426 F.3d 549; 313 F.3d 713; 477 U.S. 317
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), r. 56(c)(1)(A)
Date: 09/01/2011

Summary judgment is warranted only “if the movant shows that [1] there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [2] the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (2010). The showing cannot be made by argument alone but must be based on “materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations … admissions, interrogatory answers or other materials.” Id. r. 56(c)(1)(A); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). 

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be decided with respect to any essential element of the claim.  Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250 n.4.  Failure to meet this burden warrants denial of the motion. Id. However, if this initial burden is met, the opposing party must show, through affidavits or otherwise, that there is a material issue of fact for trial.  Id. at 250. 

When deciding a summary judgment motion, a court must resolve any ambiguities and draw all factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.  Jeffreys v. City of N.Y., 426 F.3d 549, 553 (2d Cir. 2005); Seals v. Potter, No. 5:10-CV-1556 (N.D.N.Y. May 27, 2011).  Summary judgment is inappropriate where “review of the record reveals sufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact to find in the [non-movant’s] […]

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