Summary Judgment Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Summary Judgment, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Summary Judgment?

(n) Summary judgment is the ruling by a court when all facts of the case in the trial before the court are settled before the trial and the cause of action can be decided based on the facts decided or part of facts decided without the trial. Such judgment need to examine the law only.

History and Meaning of Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is a legal term that refers to a decision that a court can make when all material facts of a case are clear and there is no need for trial or further inquiry. Summary judgment is designed to eliminate unnecessary trials when there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute. It is meant to prevent unnecessary litigation costs and expedite the resolution of cases.

The concept of summary judgment can be traced back to English common law. In the United States, it has been incorporated into the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the rules of many state courts. To obtain a summary judgment, a party must typically show that there are no genuine disputes of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Examples of Summary Judgment

  1. In a personal injury case, the defendant files a motion for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff's injuries were not caused by the defendant's negligence, and that there is no evidence to support the plaintiff's claim.

  2. In a breach of contract case, the plaintiff moves for summary judgment after the defendant admits to breaching the contract in question. The plaintiff argues that there is no genuine dispute of material fact and that judgment should be entered in their favor.

  3. In a patent infringement case, the defendant moves for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff's patent is invalid due to prior art. The defendant presents evidence showing that the invention was already known or used before the plaintiff's patent.

Legal Terms Similar to Summary Judgment

  1. Directed verdict - a decision made by a judge to end a case before it goes to the jury because there is insufficient evidence for a jury to reach a different conclusion.

  2. Default judgment - a judgment for the plaintiff when the defendant fails to appear in court or respond to a complaint.

  3. Dismissal - an action by a court that terminates a case without a trial, either because the plaintiff has not shown sufficient evidence, or the court lacks jurisdiction.