Motion for Summary Judgment – request that the court enter judgment without a trial because the evidence is legally insufficient to support a verdict in the opponent’s favor

Motion for Summary Judgment:

(1842) A request that the court enter judgment without a trial because there is no genuine issue of material fact to be decided by a factfinder – that is, because the evidence is legally insufficient to support a verdict in the nonmovant’s (party who is not making the motion) favor.  In federal court & in most state courts, the movant-defendant must point out in its motion the absence of evidence on an essential element of the plaintiff’s claim, after which the burden shifts to the nonmovant-plaintiff to produce evidence raising a genuine fact issue.  But if a party moves for summary judgment on its own claim or defense, then it must establish each element of the claim or defense as a matter of law.  Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. – Abbr. MSJ. – Also termed summary-judgment motion;
motion for summary disposition.

Summary Judgment:

(18c.) A judgment granted on a claim or defense about which there is no genuine issue of material fact and on which the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. The court considers the contents of the pleadings, the motions, & additional evidence adduced by the parties to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact rather than one of law.  This procedural device allows the speedy disposition of a controversy without the need for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. – Also termed summary disposition; judgment on the pleadings.

Partial Summary Judgment:

(1924) A summary judgment that is limited to certain issues in a case & that disposes of only a portion of the whole case. – Also termed summary adjudication.


“2. A court’s final determination of the rights & obligations of the parties in a
case. The term judgment includes an equitable decree and any order from which
an appeal lies. Fed. R. Civ. P. 54. Also spelled (esp. BrE) judgement. – Abbr. J. Also termed (historically) judgment ex cathedra.

     Excerpt from Henry Campbell Black’s A Treatise on the Law of Judgments (2d ed. 1902):

     “An action is instituted for the enforcement of a right or the redress of an injury. Hence a judgment, as the culmination of the action declares the existence of the right, recognizes the commission of the injury, or negatives the allegation of one or the other. But as no right can exist without a correlative duty, nor any invasion of it without a corresponding obligation to make amends, the judgment necessarily affirms, or else denies, that such a duty or such a liability rests upon the person against whom the aid of the law is invoked.


[1]: All definitions from: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: 1 Henry Campbell Black, A Treatise on the Law of Judgments
§ 1, at 2 (2d ed. 1902)


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Notice: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!