What is a summary judgment?

In legal terms, a summary judgment is a motion made before a trial begins to determine who is the winner of a lawsuit. In a typical trial, the jury is responsible for finding the facts of the case. However, when a person motions for summary judgment, he or she is saying that there are no important facts at issue and he or she deserves to win based on the law and the undisputed facts.
An example of such a case occurs when a plaintiff, or the person filling a suit, and the defendant, or the person who is defending themselves against the suit, both live in Fashionland. There is a law in Fashionland that says: “Thou shall not wear white shoes after Labor Day and if an individual does where white shoes he or she can be sued.” The plaintiff sues the defendant for wearing beige shoes claiming it violates the law. The important fact is the color of the shoe. Both the plaintiff and the defendant agree that the defendant was wearing beige shoes. Thus, there is no important fact in dispute and both can make separate motions for summary judgment. If they do make such a motion, it is up to the court, and not the jury, to decide whether beige is in the same color family as “white”, as “white” is defined in the law.

If, however, both the plaintiff and the defendant did not agree that the shoes were beige the lawsuit would go to trial. Then, it would be up to the jury, and not the court, to decide if the shoes were beige or not and a motion for summary judgment would be unavailable as an option.

The concept of a summary judgment relates to personal finance in a number of ways. One of the ways it affects personal finance is when a creditor motions for summary judgment regarding your debt or money owed. What the creditor is saying is that there are no important facts at issue and the creditor deserves to win the lawsuit. However, a motion for summary judgment does not mean the creditor will win. If you can prove that there is an important fact at issue, the creditor’s summary judgment motion will be denied and the case will go to trial. Or in the event that you also made a motion for summary judgment, stipulating that there are no important facts at issue, you may win or if denied the case will go to trial. All in all a motion for summary judgment is not something to be afraid of, but rather it is par for the course.


Source: Baylor, Brandon

Sybria White

Sybria White

Sybria White is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduation in May 2010, she will leave Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, a Certificate in Career Development and will be awarded a Public Service Scholar. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health following taking a year off to contribute to a National Service Program, such as AmeriCorps. Her undergraduate career has taught her the value of a sociological perspective, which has influenced her dedication to public service. She is a volunteer for W.D. Hill Recreation center, Peer mentor for minority students and has served as an active member of several campus organizations such as Sociology club, North Carolina Health Careers and Access Program, Community Government, and Minority Advising just to name a few.

Apart from contributing public service and active involvement on campus, Sybria is very passionate about creative writing and writing in general and hopes to bring a sociological point of view to her articles. Her interests outside of writing and public service include reading books concerning fashion and spending time with her family.

A well rounded curriculum involving Business and English academics in addition to sociology, have helped shaped this young writers’ unique voice. She is eager to share her newly acquired skills and looks forward to helping others approach every day problems from a new, and perhaps, sociological outlook.
Sybria White

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