Rule 56


Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure deals with summary judgment.  The rule states that a party claiming relief may move for summary judgment on all or part of the claim with or without supporting affidavits.  A party against whom relief is sought also may move for summary judgment with or without supporting affidavits.

According to the rule, a party may move for summary judgment at any time until 30 days after the close of discovery proceedings.  A party opposing the motion must file a response within 21 days after the motion is served or a responsive pleading is due, whichever is later.  The opposing party may file a reply within 14 days after the response is served.  As a matter of law, if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, the movant is entitled to judgment.  If summary judgment is not rendered on the whole action, the court should determine what material facts are not genuinely at issue.  The court should then issue an order specifying the facts which are not genuinely at issue.

Even if there is a genuine issue on the amount of damages, an interlocutory summary judgment may be rendered on liability alone.  A supporting or opposing affidavit must be made which sets out facts that would be admissible in evidence.  The affidavit should show that the affiant is competent to testify on the matters stated.  The affidavit may be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or additional affidavits.

If the opposing party does not respond, summary judgment should be entered against that party, if appropriate.  However, if a party opposing the motion shows by affidavit that it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition reasonably, the court may deny the motion, or order a continuance to enable any other discovery to be undertaken.  If an affidavit is submitted in bad faith or solely for delay, the court must order the submitting party to pay the reasonable expenses incurred by the other party.