NH Law About... Summary Judgment

Introduction to... Summary Judgment

Posted January 18, 2017.

Summary judgment is a procedure used in federal and state trial courts for civil cases.  Summary judgment resolves cases without the need to have a trial and helps courts to move cases through the judicial system efficiently (often referred to as judicial economy). Generally, one of the main purposes of a trial is to determine the facts of a case, (for example, was the traffic light red and did the driver go through the red light without stopping?). This may be done either by a judge or a jury.  Once those facts are determined, the judge applies the law to the case to reach a result for those parties.  However, if there are no disputed facts of the case, there's no reason for a judge or jury to "find the facts." A party can file a motion for summary judgment to force the other side to prove that there are disputed facts or admit that there are none. If the motion is granted, the judge decides how the law applies to the case and renders a decision.

New Hampshire superior, probate, and district courts are given the authority to grant summary judgments by statute, and court rules and statutes govern how the procedure is implemented. If the court finds that, based on all of the information filed with the court, there is “no genuine issue as to any material fact,” the court may grant the motion for summary judgment because the moving party is entitled to a “judgment as a matter of law.” However, if the opposing party has shown that there is not complete agreement on the facts, the motion will not be granted.  The courts are concerned with protecting a party’s right to a trial and are careful not to take that away merely to achieve judicial economy.

A motion granted for summary judgment can be reconsidered by the court which granted it, and may be appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  

Wiebusch on New Hampshire Civil Practice and Procedure calls summary judgment motion practice "unique and specialized" and Chapter 31 has a full discussion of how summary judgment works in New Hampshire.  If you need more information about the pros and cons of motions for summary judgment, we've listed a few books below that may provide helpful explanations. Remember, however, that summary judgment procedures in New Hampshire are governed by New Hampshire statutes and New Hampshire court rules, so anything you find in the non-New Hampshire books will need to be checked against state law.  

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney. 


Read about... Summary Judgment

WEBSITES

Wikipedia. Summary judgment  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017


PRINT

Wiebusch on New Hampshire Civil Practice and Procedure / by Gordon J. MacDonald. Newark, N.J.: Matthew Bender, LexisNexis, 2014. 4th ed.  GO>

Link verified on: February 15, 2017

Civil procedure in a nutshell / by Mary Kay Kane, John F. Digardi. St. Paul, MN : West, [2013]. 7th ed.  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Pretrial litigation in a nutshell / by R. Lawrence Dessem. St. Paul, MN : West, ©2012. 5th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Understanding civil procedure / Gene R. Shreve, Peter Raven-Hansen, Charles Gardner Geyh. New Providence, NJ : LexisNexis, [2013]. 5th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

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Read the law about... Summary Judgment

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATUTES

RSA 491:8-a. Superior Court. Motions for Summary Judgment  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

RSA 491:22. Superior Court. Declaratory Judgments  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

RSA 502-A:27-c. District Courts. Powers of the District Court  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

RSA 547:11-f. Judges of Probate and their Jurisdiction. Motions for Summary Judgment  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: July 21, 2017

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>
 

NEW HAMPSHIRE CASES

113 N.H. 276 (1973). Dunhill of Manchester v. Bardelcik

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

[T]here is no inherent power in our courts to render summary judgments, [and] such relief "will be granted only in cases, or under circumstances, covered by the terms of the statute."   GO>

126 NH 577 (1985). Petition of Atkins

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

The summary judgment procedure for determining issues of fact was developed in order to conserve time and judicial resources.   GO>

145 N.H. 190 (2000). Iannelli v. Burger King Corp

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Summary judgment affords savings in time, effort and expense by avoiding a full trial under certain circumstances. The value of judicial economy may not be gained, however, at the expense of denying a litigant the right of trial where there is a genuine issue of material fact to be litigated. Consequently, RSA 491:8-a, III places on the moving party the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Moreover, the reviewing court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, giving that party the benefit of all favorable inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence.   GO>

149 N.H. 174 (2003). Weeks v. Co-Operative Insurance Companies

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

In acting upon a motion for summary judgment, the trial court is required to construe the pleadings, discovery and affidavits in the light most favorable to the non-moving party to determine whether the proponent has established the absence of a dispute over any material fact and the right to judgment as a matter of law. The party objecting to a motion for summary judgment "may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of his pleadings, but his response, by affidavits or by reference to depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue [of material fact] for trial." An issue of fact is material if it affects the outcome of the litigation.   GO>

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Reports

Link verified on: July 21, 2017

Find the New Hampshire Reports in libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>
 

NEW HAMPSHIRE COURT RULES

Rule 12-g. N.H. Superior Court. Civil Rules. Motions for Summary Judgment  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Rule 3.11. N.H. Circuit Court -- District Division. Civil Rules. Motions  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Rule 58-A. N.H. Circuit Court Probate Division. Motions for Summary Judgment  GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017

Learn About New Hampshire Court Rules: Follow this link to learn how to search court rules online as well as what court rules are and how they're published. GO>
 

NEW HAMPSHIRE FORMS

New Hampshire Judicial Branch. Motion for…   GO>

Link verified on: January 18, 2017


FOR MORE HELP ...

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: July 31, 2017

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>


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