Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment in CA

Issue: In California, what is the threshold for summary judgment?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Summary adjudication motions; No triable issue as to any material fact
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 74 Cal. App. 4th 597
Cited Statutes: Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 437c(a); Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 437c(o)(2)
Date: 11/01/2000

Both summary judgment and summary adjudication motions are subject to the same rules and procedures.  Lunardi v. Great-West Life Assurance Co. (6th Dist. 1995) 37 Cal. App. 4th 807, 819, 44 Cal. Rptr. 2d 56, 61.

Summary judgment/adjudication may be granted only where it is shown that the “action has no merit or there is no defense” thereto.  Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 437c(a).  To make this showing the moving party must set forth admissible evidence establishing that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Addy v. Bliss & Glennon (6th Dist. 1996) 44 Cal. App. 4th 205, 213, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d 642, 646-47.

Where the moving party is a defendant, to meet his or her burden that party must show either that there is a complete defense to the plaintiff’s claim or that one or more elements of plaintiff’s cause of action “cannot” be established.  Id.; Hagen v. Hickenbottom (6th Dist. 1995) 41 Cal. App. 4th 168, 183-84, 48 Cal. Rptr. 2d 197, 205-07.  To carry his or her burden to show that the plaintiff’s cause of action “cannot” be established, the defendant must do “something significantly more than simply pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence.”  Id., 41 Cal. App. 4th at 186.

Instead, to meet the burden for summary judgment/adjudication a defendant must either (a) “negate an […]

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