Estate Planning and Business Law

Summary Judgment and Summary Adjudication

Summary Judgment and Summary Adjudication Procedures: Summary judgment and summary adjudication motions enable a court to determine that the opposing party's pleadings lack evidentiary support and to limit or terminate the action accordingly: “The purpose of the law of summary judgment is to provide courts with a mechanism to cut through the parties‘ pleadings in order to determine whether, despite their allegations, trial is in fact necessary to resolve their dispute.” [Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 C4th 826, 843, 107 CR2d 841, 855] A motion for summary judgment asks the court to determine that the entire action has no merit (or that there is no defense) and to terminate the action without the necessity of a trial.]

Summary Judgment vs. Summary Adjudication: When the court grants summary judgment, the action is terminated and an immediately appealable judgment is entered. On the other hand, when summary adjudication is granted on a claim or defense, the action proceeds to trial on the remaining issues.

The motions are often made in the alternative; i.e., if summary judgment is denied, the court is asked to determine whether there are triable issues of fact as to specific claims or defenses. The summary adjudication motion may be based on the same evidence as the summary judgment request.

Summary judgment: A summary judgment may be granted where it is shown that the “action has no merit or that there is no defense to the action or proceeding.”

The court must determine from the evidence presented that “there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law ... ”

Summary adjudication: Even if there are some triable issues in the case, the court has power on noticed motion to summarily adjudicate:

• that one or more causes of action has no merit; or

• that one or more claims for damages has no merit; or

• that there is no merit to a claim for punitive damages; or

• that there is no affirmative defense to one or more causes of action or claims for damages; or

• that there is no merit to one or more affirmative defenses; or

• that one or more defendants “either owed or did not owe a duty to the plaintiff or plaintiffs.”

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