Summary: Despite the fact that we have all grown up with the ideal that everyone should get their day in court, the sad reality is that fewer and fewer cases are going to trial. In large part this is because the rise of motions for summary judgment and other dispositive motions.
There are few ideas that are as cornerstone to our legal system than one’s ability to get their day in court. Despite this notion, the ability of a plaintiff to get their day in court is becoming rarer and rarer each year. By way of example, according to an American Bar Association study only about 0.8 percent of cases were decided by a jury trial in 2013. By now that number may very well by lower.
While the study outlined various theories of why this may be the case, one of the biggest obstacles outlined in the study was the tendency of cases to be disposed by a dispositive motion. In fact, the study stated that motions for summary judgment alone, one of the various types of dispositive motions, are the procedural vehicle that dispose of about 20 percent of cases filed in federal court. That is why I would like to focus on motions of summary judgment for the purposes of this blog.
Broadly speaking, a motion for summary judgment is a party asking a judge to get rid of a case because no reasonable jury could find in the favor of the other party. At this phase of the inquiry, the judge is not allowed to weigh the evidence. In fact, in reviewing entry of summary judgment, the judge considers the evidence presented in the motion and response in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion. Moreover, the judge must credit evidence favorable to that party if reasonable jurors could and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not. In short, the judge must take as true all evidence favorable to the party resisting the motion for summary judgment.
While someone reading the above cited standard would think that these types of motions are rarely granted, the numbers do not lie. The fact of the matter is that these motions are growing in popularity and are being filed more and more by defendants in employment cases. As such, they are an incredible danger to getting your day in court.
In order to best protect your case from these types of motions there are steps you can take. The first is simple. Act fast. Many of the deadlines that are the subject of motions for summary judgment such as statutes of limitations are rather short. That is why if you believe you have a case, you should contact an attorney as soon as you can. Second, gather all the documents that you believe may be helpful for your case so that you are able to help your attorney put their best foot forward. Third, it is imperative to seek out an attorney that specializes in labor and employment law. This is because each type of law has its own type of quirks that can change what is the best way to approach matters. Probably, the best way one can see how important this small step is, is by taking note who employers are retaining to represent them in employment disputes. In large part, employers are retaining attorneys that specialize in labor and employment law.
Here, at Wiley Walsh, P.C. we specialize in labor and employment law. More importantly, we only represent workers. We are the type of law firm with the knowledge and skills to be a zealous advocate so that you won’t become part of a statistic. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., we can fight on your behalf with the legal expertise that this type of cases demand. Feel free to contact us for a consultation.