AN MRCP 56 CAUTION

March 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

The first thing you should do when confronted with a motion for summary judgment is to read the rule. I know, I know, you’re busy and it takes time, but for Pete’s sake, it might just save you some trouble and embarassment, and it might save your malpractice carrier some $$$.

In the COA case of Estate of Farr v. Wirick, decided February 21, 2112, the trial judge excluded from evidence two affidavits that were submitted on the day of hearing. The COA ruled that ” … the chancery court properly excluded the cerificates under [MRCP] Rule 56(c), which requires that affidavits in opposition to a motion for summary judgment must be served ‘prior to the day of the hearing’.”

You have at least ten days’ notice of a motion for summary judgment per MRCP 56(c), and you must file your counteraffidavits prior to the day of the hearing.

So what do you do if you can’t scrape together counteraffidvits in time? MRCP 56(f) allows the court to grant additional time to obtain them, or to grant a continuance to do additional discovery, or to “make such order as is just.” The court can also simply refuse the application for summary judgment.

You can also ask the judge, per MRCP 56(e) for leave to supplement your affidavits or to submit further affidavits.

And don’t overlook this crucial language at MRCP 56(e):

When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings, but his response, by affidavits or otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If he does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against him. [Emphasis added]

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