Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment in a Negligence Case

Issue: Under the law of the U.S. Virgin Islands, what is the standard which governs whether or not a court is permitted to grant summary judgment in a negligence case?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Summary judgment; Negligence claim; Standard for granting
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 974 F.2d 1358; 477 U.S. 317; 16 F.3d 532
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2004

“The standard for granting summary judgment is a stringent one.”  Moore v. A.H. Riise Gift Shops, 23 V.I. 227, 230 (D.V.I. 1987).  Summary judgment may only be granted “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 judgment as a matter of law.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).  The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the basis for dismissal.  Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Davis v. Portline Transportes Maritime Internacional, 16 F.3d 532, 537 n.3 (3d Cir. 1994); Whitaker v. Merril Lynch, Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc., 36 V.I. 75, 78 (Terr. Ct. 1997).

When the court decides a motion for summary judgment, it must draw all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmovant, and may not consider the credibility or weight of evidence, even if the quantity of the movant’s evidence outweighs that of the nonmovant.  Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992); Whitaker, 36 V.I. at 78.  “When deciding a motion for summary judgment . . . a court’s role remains circumscribed in that it is inappropriate for a court to resolve factual disputes and to make credibility determinations.”  Big Apple BMW, 974 F.2d at 1363.  Summary judgment remains an extreme […]

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