Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is a procedure used in lawsuits to obtain a ruling from the judge that certain issues or claims do not involve a genuine issue of material fact, and that as a matter of law which the judge may decide, the issue or claim should be either granted or dismissed.  Rule 56 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure contains the court rule and the mechanics for filing a motion for summary judgment.

The superior court shall grant summary judgment when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”  Ariz. R. Civ. P. 56(a).  Summary judgment “should be granted if the facts produced in support of the claim or defense have so little probative value, given the quantum of evidence required, that reasonable people could not agree with the conclusion advanced by the proponent of the claim or defense.”  Orme Sch. v. Reeves, 166 Ariz. 301, 309, 802 P.2d 1000, 1008 (1990).  If the evidence would allow a jury to resolve a material issue in favor of either party, summary judgment is improper.  United Bank of Ariz. v. Allyn, 167 Ariz. 191, 195, 805 P.2d 1012, 1016 (App. 1990).

The summary-judgment scheme provides that the moving party shall submit a supported statement of facts, the responding party shall then have an opportunity to dispute the moving party’s facts and offer his or her own facts, and the moving party may finally file a reply. Ariz. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2)-(3). The rules do not authorize surreplies, and the responding party’s ability to object to evidence presented for the first time on reply is limited even under Rule 7.1(f).

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