Legal Memorandum: Motion for Summary Judgment

Issue: When will the courts in the Third Circuit grant a party additional time to conduct discovery for opposition to a summary judgment motion?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion for summary judgment; Deny or continue; Additional time for discovery
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 30 F.3d 424
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f)
Date: 10/01/2006

When a party opposing a motion for summary judgment requires additional discovery to justify its opposition, the court may deny or continue the motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f).  San Filippo v. Bongiovanni, 30 F.3d 424, 432 (3d Cir. 1994).  Rule 56(f) provides:

Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that the party cannot for reasons stated present by affidavit facts essential to justify the party’s opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.


Within the Third Circuit the standard for deciding Rule 56(f) motions involves the consideration of at least three factors: “[1] what particular information is sought; [2] how, if uncovered, it would preclude summary judgment; and [3] why it has not been previously obtained.”  Filippo, 30 F.3d at 432 (quoting Contractors Ass’n v. City of Philadelphia, 945 F.2d 1260, 1266 (3d Cir. 1991)).  In addition, when the information sought is in the hands of the summary judgment movant, “a district court should grant a Rule 56(f) motion almost as a matter of course unless the information is otherwise available to the non-movant [for summary judgment].”  Contractors Ass’n, 945 F.2d at 1266; see St. Surin v. Virgin Islands Daily News, Inc., 21 F.3d 1309, 1314 (3d Cir. 1994). […]

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