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Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment in Negligence Cases

Issue: Under the law of the Virgin Islands, when is summary judgment appropriate in a negligence case?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Summary judgment; Negligence claim
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 477 U.S. 317
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c);
Date: 11/01/2004

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).  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).  “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.”  Id. at 1363. 

Summary judgment remains an extreme remedy that should not be granted unless the movant establishes its right to judgment with such clarity that there is no room for controversy and the other party cannot recover under any discernable circumstances.  Etienne v. United Corp., 44 V.I. 113, 116 (Terr. Ct. 2001).  Accord Towers Condo. Ass’n v. C.E. Brathwaite & Assocs., 40 V.I. 33, 38 (Terr. Ct. 1999) (denying motions for summary judgment because […]

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