Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment in MN

Issue: What is the standard for granting summary judgment under Minnesota law?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; No genuine issues of material fact; Judgment as a matter of law
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 519 N.W.2d 229; 364 N.W.2d 387; 526 N.W.2d 625; 567 N.W.2d 496
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2000

           Summary judgment is appropriate in the rare case in which the moving party has clearly proven that there remain no genuine issues of material fact and that he or she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Vacura v. Haar’s Equip., Inc., 364 N.W.2d 387, 391 (Minn. 1985).  "Although summary judgment is intended to secure a just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition, it is not intended as a substitute for trial where there are fact issues to be determined."  Id. at 391.  At the hearing on a motion for summary judgment, the trial judge must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and, rather than deciding the issues, must simply determine whether any genuine issue of material fact exists.  Id.  Ordinarily, the question of negligence is a question of fact and, therefore, is not susceptible to summary adjudication.  Canada ex rel. Landy v. McCarthy, 567 N.W.2d 496, 505 (1997).

The Minnesota Supreme Court has dictated that trial courts liberally grant continuances before hearing a motion for summary judgment, especially when a party seeks the continuance due to an insufficient amount of time to conduct discovery through no fault of his or her own.  Rice v. Perl, 320 N.W.2d 407, 412 (Minn. 1982), cited in Anderson v. Shaughnessy, 519 N.W.2d 229, 233 (Minn. Ct. App. 1994), rev’d on other grounds, 526 N.W.2d 625 (Minn. 1995).


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