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Legal Memorandum: Burden of Proof in a Motion for Summary Judgment

Issue: Under the laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which party bears the burden of proof in a motion for summary judgment?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion for summary judgment; Burden of proof
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 398 U.S. 144
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56
Date: 05/01/2007

Under Rule 56(c), the moving party bears the burden of pointing out to the court an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case.  Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).  Only if the moving party meets this initial burden, does the nonmoving party need to set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Porter v. Samuel, 889 F. Supp. 213, 218 (D.V.I. 1995); see Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d Cir. 2001) (“[T]he burden of the nonmovant to respond arises only if the motion is properly ‘supported’—and therefore summary judgment only is appropriate when the moving party met its burden of production under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).”).  Indeed, in the event the moving party fails to meet this initial burden, “summary judgment must be denied even if no opposing evidentiary matter is presented.”  Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 advisory committee notes to the 1963 amendments).  

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