Legal Memorandum: Denial of Summary Judgment in UT

Issue: Is it appropriate to deny summary judgment to a plaintiff whose property or liberty interests are not violated because that plaintiff did not have a property interest in his job or a liberty interest in his good name and reputation?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Property or liberty interests; Good name and reputation
Jurisdiction: Federal, Utah
Cited Cases: 896 F.2d 1228; 505 F. Supp. 2d 1178; 509 F.3d 1304
Cited Statutes: Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 56(a); Judicial Council Rules of Judicial Administration, ch. 4, art. 5, R. 4-510, § (3)(I), (J)
Date: 06/01/2011

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 56(a) provides, “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”  The standard for the grant of summary judgment is well settled, and was recently reiterated by Judge Tena Campbell:

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing “that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party’s case.”  … Once the moving party satisfies its initial burden “the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to make a showing sufficient to establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the existence of [the disputed] element.”  A fact in dispute is “material” only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.  The dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is such that it might lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party.

Polk v. Patterson, No. 2:07-CV-980 (D. Utah May 18, 2011) (citations omitted).  Accord Assenov v. Univ. of Utah, 553 F. Supp. 2d 1319 (D. Utah 2008); Farm Bur. Life Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat’l Ins. Co., 505 F. Supp. 2d 1178, 1183-84 (D. Utah. 2007).  In a summary judgment proceeding, the court must examine the factual record in the light most favorable to the non-movant.  AlShamsawi v. Holder, No. 2:10-CV-194 (D. Utah May 13, 2011).  Accord […]

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