Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment

Issue: In federal court, do fact issues preclude a summary judgment?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Fact issues; No material questions of fact
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 583 P.2d 276; 684 P.2d 187
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2000

It is a matter of settled law in U.S. federal courts that fact issues preclude a summary judgment.  The "Celotex trilogy" has not changed that; what it now means is that if there is no evidence to support a plaintiff’s case, the case can be disposed of on summary judgment.   Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).  The judge’s function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter.  Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).  

The movant in a summary judgment motion has the burden of showing that there are no material questions of fact before requesting summary judgment.  Ironically, that rule is stated unequivocally in Kaiser Found. Health Plan v. Sharp, 741 P.2d 714, 718-19 (Colo. 1987), a case relied upon by Defendants: "Even if the party opposing the motion bears the burden at trial of proving a particular fact, the party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of proving clearly that there is no genuine issue of material fact."

To "prove causation in a negligence case, the plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligent conduct."  Kaiser Found. Health Plan v. Sharp, 741 P.2d 714, 19 (Colo. 1987).  The Kaiser court went on to explain:

The existence of a causative link between the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s negligence is a question of fact, see City of […]


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