Summary Judgment: Issues of Material Fact

Summary Judgment: Issues of Material Fact

Under Washington State laws concerning summary judgment, what are "issues of material fact"? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


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SUMMARY JUDGMENT: CR 56

CLAIMANTS: "A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross claim, or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, after the expiration of the period within which the defendant is required to appear, or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in the party’s favor upon all or any part thereof." CR 56(a).

DEFENDING PARTIES: "A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross claim is asserted or a declaratory judgment is sought may move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in such party’s favor as to all or any part thereof." CR 56(b).

PROCEEDINGS: "The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." See CR 56(c).

ISSUES OF MATERIAL FACT

In Washington State, courts "may affirm an order granting summary judgment if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Mackey v. Home Depot USA, Inc., 12 Wn.App.2d 557, 569 (Div. 2 2020), review denied, 468 P.3d 616 (2020) (citing CR 56(c); Keck v. Collins, 184 Wn.2d 358, 370, 357 P.3d 1080 (2015)). 

"A genuine issue of fact exists when reasonable minds could disagree on the facts controlling the outcome of the case." Id. (citing Sutton v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 180 Wn.App. 859, 864-65, 324 P.3d 763 (2014)). "The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact." Id. (citing Zonnebloem, LLC v. Blue Bay Holdings, LLC, 200 Wn.App. 178, 183, 401 P.3d 468 (2017)) (internal quotation marks omitted). 

WHEN THE MOVING PARTY IS DEFENDANT (COMMON)

"A moving defendant can meet this burden by establishing that there is a lack of evidence to support the plaintiff's claim." Id. (citing Zonnebloem, 200 Wn.App. at 183). "Once the defendant has [met its initial burden] … the burden shifts to the plaintiff to present specific facts that show a genuine issue of material fact." Id. (citing Zonnebloem, 200 Wn.App. at 183).

"Summary judgment is appropriate if a plaintiff fails to show sufficient evidence to establish a question of fact as to the existence of an element on which he or she will have the burden of proof at trial." Id. (citing Lake Chelan Shores Homeowners Ass'n v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 176 Wn.App. 168, 179, 313 P.3d 408 (2013)).

LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Discrimination Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.

–gw

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