In litigation, summary judgment is essentially an inquiry as to whether the opposing party can present a genuine issue of material fact supported by appropriate evidence. This is done by motion in advance of trial (pursuant to CR 56) to avoid a useless trial.
Summary judgment can also force an opposing party to flesh out its evidence more specifically. However, it can be an expensive process (though less expensive than trial), both in legal fees for time spent briefing the facts and legal issues, and in preparing evidence to be submitted into the record.

The moving party can set out her version of the facts and allege there is no dispute as to the facts that are important to the legal issues. This requires preparing evidence as to the facts not in dispute with affidavits, which can be costly depending on how much evidence is at issue, either as documents or in statements from witnesses.

Alternatively, the moving party can point out to the trial court that the opposing party lacks the evidence it needs to prove its case. Here the moving party does not necessarily require affidavits, but she must point out the portions of the record that support her position, which may warrant submitting affidavits showing the lack of evidence (i.e., discovery propounded but with responses that failed to respond with evidence that would prove the opposing party’s position). This is because a complete failure of proof regarding an essential element simply makes any other facts irrelevant or immaterial.

Regardless, you will want to weigh the costs compared to the likelihood of prevailing and scrutinize the evidence as to the legal elements involved.


CR 56
§ 5:2.Overview of motion, 34 Wash. Prac., Sum. Jdgmt. & Rel. Term. Motions § 5:2 (2017 ed.)

Seybold v. Neu, 105 Wn. App. 666, 677, 19 P.3d 1068 (2001).

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986).

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