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Legal Memorandum: Dismissal of a Complaint

Issue: When is dismissal of a complaint warranted for lack of a genuine dispute of material fact?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Dismissal of a complaint; No genuine issue as to any material fact; Motion for summary judgment
Jurisdiction: California, Federal
Cited Cases: 155 F.3d 565; 921 F.2d 959
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)
Date: 05/01/2006

It is well settled by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and United States Supreme Court case law that judgment shall be rendered “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).   The moving party “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion” and of identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits on file that demonstrate an absence of a genuine issue of material fact.  Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).  The movant is not required to negate the portions of the nonmovant’s claim on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof.  Id. at 323.

When the movant demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the nonmovant must indicate the “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”  Id. at 324.  There is no genuine issue of material fact if “the evidence is of insufficient caliber or quantity to allow a rational finder of fact” to find for the nonmovant.  Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986).  Accord Schlafly v. Public Key Partners, No. 94-20512 SW (N.D. Cal. Aug. 29, 1997), aff’d, 155 F.3d 565 (Fed. Cir. 1998).  […]

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