Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment and Full Plenary Trials

Issue: Under New Jersey law, may summary judgment be a substitute for a full plenary trial?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Full plenary trial
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: 63 N.J. Super. 369; 251 N.J. Super. 393; 164 A.2d 607; 640 A.2d 1200; 598 A.2d 526; 293 N.J. Super. 81; 292 N.J. Super. 463; 184 A.2d 873; 679 A.2d 709; 273 N.J. Super. 54; 76 N.J. Super. 451
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2001

Although summary judgment serves a valid purpose in judicial proceedings, protecting against groundless claims and frivolous defenses, it is not a substitute for a full plenary trial.  Hermann Forwarding Co. v. Pappas Ins. Co., 273 N.J. Super. 54, 640 A.2d 1200 (App. Div. 1994).  As such, summary judgment is only to be granted with extreme caution.  Henschke v. Borough of Clayton, 251 N.J. Super. 393, 598 A.2d 526 (App. Div. 1991).

In addition: 

On a motion for summary judgment, we must decide whether genuine issues of material fact are presented, sufficient to defeat a determination for either party as a matter of law.  In arriving at this decision, all doubtful inferences are to be drawn in favor of the opponent of the motion and against the movant.

Ocean Cape Hotel Corp. v. Masefield Corp., 63 N.J. Super. 369, 379, 164 A.2d 607, 612 (App. Div. 1960).  Further, the burden is on the moving party to “exclude any reasonable doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact.”  Kovacs v. Pennsylvania R.R. , 76 N.J. Super. 451, 453, 184 A.2d 873 (App. Div. 1962).  

On appeal of a denial of a motion for summary judgment, the appellate court is to apply the same standard applied by the trial court.  Sagendorf […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)