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The interplay between litigation and summary judgment

Litigation is often seen as presenting eloquent legal arguments to a judge and jury and utilizing skilled questioning to elicit wanted information from witnesses. While this does make up a significant portion of litigation, it is just the culmination of thorough preparation. Without this preparation, one's presentation in the courtroom is sure to be less than stellar.

In fact, courtroom litigation can often be avoided by bringing a case to quick resolution. This is often accomplished through negotiation, but it can also be achieved through pretrial practices. One such tactic is to seek summary judgment. Summary judgment occurs when a court find in favor of one party prior to trial, but it can only be obtained to pretrial motion and if certain elements are met. First, there must be no dispute as to the material facts at play. Second, given the undisputed facts at hand, the party seeking summary judgment is entitled to that judgment as a matter of law.

So what does this mean in layman's terms? It means that the court will look at the facts as presented most favorably to the nonmoving party. Then, with that picture in front of it, the court will determine whether or not the law requires it to find in favor of the moving party. If so, then judgment will be entered in favor of the moving party and there will be no trial. This is because trials involve disputed facts. In a motion for summary judgment, the moving party is conceding to the facts as presented by the other side.

Summary judgment can either be a powerful weapon in a party's arsenal, or it can threated to completely derail a claim. This is why careful consideration must given up front to the facts at hand and how the law applies to them. Those who think they can benefit from these types of pretrial practices should consider consulting with an experienced litigator who can help them best protect their interests and their legal positions.

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