What A Summary Judgment Means In A Disability Discrimination Case

24 July 2019
 Categories: Law, Blog


When moving ahead with the later phases of a case, a disability discrimination attorney may end up needing to discuss the idea of "summary judgment" with you. This is something that only occurs when a matter has gone far enough that it is not in front of a judge and there's a real risk of a trial. Summary judgment is fundamentally a bench trial where the judge rules on the legal claims that are being made by both parties. Should the topic of a summary judgment come up, it's good to know exactly what the folks at the disability discrimination law services firm are talking about.

Timing Matters

During a certain phase of the process, either of the two parties has the right to ask a judge for summary judgment. Notably, just because you're allowed to ask doesn't mean it's necessarily a good idea.

A summary judgment can only be handed down during the period after discovery has ended but before a trial has started. Discovery is the process where your disability discrimination attorney is allowed to demand documents from the defendant. Oftentimes, a lawyer will seek a summary judgment if something that turned up during discovery appears to be especially damning for the other party.

Can It Be Invoked?

Motions for summary judgment can't be tossed around willy-nilly, as it would be considered a waste of the court's time and resources. In particular, a matter is ripe for summary judgment if there are no disputes over the material facts of the case. For example, an employer might agree that they fired a person under the circumstances described in the complaint.

In such a situation, the judge isn't being asked to rule on the facts of the case. Only a jury can do that. Instead, the judge is being asked to rule on the legality of the conduct that both parties agreed occurred.

What Happens?

About 17% of federal cases are concluded with summary judgments. Roughly three-quarters of the time, the defendant brings the motion. The remaining quarter of the time, it is the plaintiff.

The goal of summary judgment is to expedite the process. The party that motions for a judgment must present evidence supporting every tiny bit of their defense or their complaint. All admissible evidence can be used, and a lawyer may present of supporting case law. The judge can then either decide the case or order a trial. For more information, reach out to a disability discrimination attorney.