Legal Memorandum: Granting Partial Summary Judgment

Issue: What is the standard for granting partial summary judgment?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Partial summary judgment; Genuine issues of material fact
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 910 F.2d 167; 37 F.3d 1069
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b)
Date: 08/01/2010

Rule 56(b) permits a defendant “to move at any time, with or without supporting affidavits, for summary judgment on all or part of the claim.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).  The motion shall be granted if the pleadings, depositions and affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069 (5th Cir.1994) (en banc) 

To prevail, the party moving for summary judgment must make a threshold demonstration of the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. Celotex 477 U.S. at 324.  However, this burden may be discharged without the submission of affidavits or other evidence when the nonmoving party has the burden of proof at trial. Id. 325.  As this Court stated recently:

Where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof at trial, the moving party does not have to produce evidence which would negate the existence of material facts.  It meets its burden by simply pointing out the absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party’s case.  Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325.  To oppose the summary judgment motion successfully, the non-moving party must then be able to establish elements essential to its case on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial.  A complete […]

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