How to File a Motion for Summary Judgment

February 22, 2023
How to File a Motion for Summary Judgment

[Download Bloomberg Law’s sample summary judgment to save time drafting motions.]

This article outlines motion for summary judgment, explains the differences between summary judgment and motion to dismiss, details a motion for summary judgment timeline, and provides a downloadable sample motion.

What is a motion for summary judgment?

When bringing a summary judgment motion, a party is arguing that there can be no real dispute about material facts, and the moving party is entitled to win the case as a matter of law.

A motion for summary judgment does not allow the court to decide issues of fact, but to examine the pleadings and proof to determine if a trial is necessary.

What’s the difference between a summary judgment vs. motion to dismiss?

The primary difference between a motion for summary judgment and a motion to dismiss is the materials the courts can consider.

  • Motion for summary judgment: The court can consider all evidence in the record, even if the evidence was not cited in the pleadings. However, the court can only consider evidence that would be admissible at trial.
  • Motion to dismiss: A court can consider the complaint, incorporated documents, matters of judicial notice, and exhibits. If the party presents matters outside the pleadings that are not excluded by the court, the motion to dismiss should be converted to a motion for summary judgment.

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How long does a motion for summary judgment take?

The timeline for a motion for summary judgment to be decided upon can vary but will typically involve the following steps:

  1. Under the rules of federal courts, unless a different time is set by local rule or a court orders it, the party seeking summary judgment may file a motion at any time until 30 days after the close of discovery. The moving party must demonstrate that there is no genuine dispute over any material fact and is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
  2. The nonmoving party is given an allotted amount of time to respond to the motion and must show that a genuinely disputed fact cannot rely upon improbable inferences, conclusory allegations, or rank speculation.
  3. Both the moving and nonmoving parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments in court during a hearing. A court might either grant or deny the motion.

What happens after a summary judgment is granted?

Courts have a lot of latitude in ruling on summary judgment motions. Specifically, courts can:

  • Consider evidence or arguments not raised
  • Grant partial summary judgment
  • Issue summary judgment for nonmovant or sua sponte
  • Deny or continue for further discovery

If a motion for summary judgment is granted, the judge has determined that no material facts are in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

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Summary judgment motion template

This form is intended to serve as a general template to be adapted to a particular matter. It is not tailored to address specific facts or comply with the requirements of the applicable local rules or practice.

Jurisdictions vary in what filings they require for summary judgment motions. Some require a “Notice of Motion,” a “Motion,” and a “Memorandum in Support.” Some allow the “Notice” to be combined with the “Motion.”

Make sure to check the local rules and individual judge’s policies and procedures to confirm what filings are required, what information must be included, and how they should be formatted.

[Download this sample motion as a PDF and adapt as needed.]


[PARTY] respectfully moves for summary judgment on all claims [or describe specific claims for which summary judgment is sought] pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule [RULE NUMBER] because the material facts are not in dispute and [PARTY] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

[PARTY]’s motion is supported by the following accompanying documents:

  1. [PARTY]’s Memorandum in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, dated [DATE]
  2. [PARTY]’s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Support of [PARTY]’s Motion for Summary Judgment, dated [DATE]
  3. The Declaration of [NAME] in Support of [PARTY]’s Motion for Summary Judgment, dated [DATE] and all attached exhibits
  4. [Any other attachments required by local or judicial rule.]

Dated: [DATE]

Respectfully submitted,

By: _______________________________
[NAME(S), Bar No. (if applicable)]
Attorneys for [PARTY]