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Litigation Series Part 3: What is a Dispositive Motion?

We’re continuing our litigation series by talking about dispositive motions. What does a dispositive motion mean? A dispositive motion is a motion that you file generally at the end of discovery. After you’ve already obtained all the facts and documents and information you can from the other side and you think that you can win the case. Then you file a dispositive motion, meaning it’s a motion that is going to convince the judge that you win and he’s going to go ahead and grant you a what’s called summary judgment in your favor, meaning that you don’t need to go through a whole trial in order to win. He’s going to say you have enough law and facts on your side that I’m going to go ahead and say you win essentially.

They’re generally motions for summary judgment. They can also be motions to dismiss. I did mention motions to dismiss in part 1. Those usually are filed in the beginning of the case before you answer a complaint. If you think that the other side doesn’t have a case against you and there’s no way that they could actually file the case they did, then you would file a motion to dismiss. Very rarely you file these things at the end after discovery. If you’re able to prove or show that there’s absolutely no way the other side has enough facts or law to win a case then potentially you could do a motion to dismiss, but most of the time when we reference dispositive motions, we’re talking about motions for summary judgment. These are filed, as mentioned before, generally after the close of discovery because at that point you have enough information that you can try to convince the judge that you’re going to win the case.

Sometimes you might file them only on certain causes of action, not on the entire complaint because normally a complaint has more than one cause of action, meaning more than one claim that you’re making against the other side. So sometimes you see that people file motions for partial summary judgment with the idea being they want to convince the judge that at least they win on one or two counts and maybe there’s still a few left outstanding for the jury or the judge to decide at trial. But they try to eliminate as many things as they can before you get to the actual trial. These all have to be filed within 30 days after the close of discovery. That’s when your attorney is going to be filing these motions and unless your attorney or you get enough information to know you could win without continuing through discovery, then you might file a motion for summary judgment in the middle of discovery.

A lot of times what happens then though is the other side says something like I don’t have enough information, I need more time. We still have time in discovery. There needs to be more depositions or more documents or something. So the judges are less inclined to grant a motion for summary judgment if it’s done in the middle of discovery because there’s still potentially things that might come to light between then and the close of discovery. So that’s why you see these mostly filed at the end when the other side can’t say, I need more time to discover more facts.

Next week, the series will end with “When does litigation end?” Visit our Website for more information. To schedule a complimentary, 15-minute phone consultation with our attorneys call (702) 213-8426, or click here to schedule your complimentary consultation.

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