Traditional Motions for Summary Judgement

Summary judgments are judgments or orders by a court that dispose of a case in a ‘summary’ fashion, without a trial to determine the facts that are at issue between the parties. These cases are controlled by Rule 166a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which is abbreviated Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a. These motions are also controlled by Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(a), Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(b) and Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(c). In order summary to obtain what is known as a traditional summary judgment, a party must file a motion proving that there is no issue of genuine fact and that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Either a plaintiff or a defendant may file such a motion. Evidence is usually submitted in support of such a motion including, for example, affidavits, public records, business records or discovery responses. Once a party files a motion for a traditional summary judgment, the other party usually files a response asserting that the motion should not be granted.

If the trial court grants a motion for traditional summary judgment an appeal can usually be taken because such a judgment will ordinarily resolve all issues between the parties. Often, such a judgment can be reversed. An appeal can be successful even if the non-movant has failed to file a response in the trial court. The standard on appeal is whether the summary judgment movant has met his burden and proven his right to judgment as a matter of law. If that burden has not been met, the trial court’s judgment should be reversed.

Mr. Ryan has successfully represented clients in appeals of traditional summary judgments in the following cases:

  1. Clark v. Pimienta, 2002 Tex. App. LEXIS 8308 (Tex. App. 2002, no pet.) This case involved the reversal, in part, of a summary judgment in a breach of contract case.
  2. Valenzuela v. State & County Mutual Fire Insurance Company, 317 S.W. 3d 550 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, no pet.) In this case Mr. Ryan contended that an affidavit submitted in support of a motion for summary judgment was not sufficient to prove the movant’s right to judgment. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed and remanded the case.
  3. Gordon v. Ward, 822 S.W. 2d 90 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 1991, writ denied) In this case, Mr. Ryan obtained a reversal of a summary judgment on behalf of a plaintiff suing an attorney in a legal malpractice case.
  4. Smith v. Cutrer & Jefferson, 2002 Tex. App. LEXIS, 432 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, no pet.) In this case, Mr. Ryan obtained a reversal of a summary judgment on behalf of plaintiffs suing a law firm in a legal malpractice case