Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment Standard in MN

Issue: Under Minnesota law, what is the standard for summary judgment when the plaintiff is the moving party?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Moving party; No genuine issue as to any material fact
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 764 N.W.2d 359
Cited Statutes: Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03, Rule 56(c)
Date: 11/01/2012

Summary judgment is appropriate only when “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 either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”  Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03.  The moving party has the burden on the motion.  Valspar Refinish, Inc. v. Gaylord’s, Inc., 764 N.W.2d 359, 364 (Minn. 2009).    

In addition, when the moving party is the plaintiff who also has the ultimate burden of proof on the merits, it may succeed on the motion only if it produces “credible evidence using materials specified in Rule 56(c) that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial.”  Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 589, 583 n.1 (Minn. 1988).  In other words, to prevail on the summary judgment motion, a moving plaintiff must submit evidence to support, or at least create a fact question, with respect to every element of a prima facie case.  Id.  In applying this standard, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party who is given the benefit of all reasonable inferences.  City of Minneapolis v. Ames & Fischer Co. II. LLP, 724 N.W.2d 749, 756 (Minn. Ct. App. 2006).