The separate statement that accompanies your summary judgment motion in California courts is not merely a technical requirement you can breeze through; rather, it’s an exceedingly important document, and should not be viewed as an afterthought. In fact, when the law is straightforward and well known to the court, the judge may turn first to the separate statement and form an impression on whether the motion is well taken.
California’s summary judgment statute requires that the papers filed in support of a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication include “a separate statement setting forth plainly and concisely all material facts which the moving party contends are undisputed.” CCP §437c(b)(1). Each material fact stated must have a reference to the supporting evidence. CCP §437c(b)(1); Cal Rules of Ct 3.1350.
The purpose of a separate statement of undisputed facts is to
- Provide the court with a document that plainly and concisely specifies all material facts that are claimed to be undisputed (CCP §437c(b)(1));
- Provide the court with clear reference to evidence supporting each material fact (Cal Rules of Ct 3.1350); and
- Afford due process to opposing parties (State ex rel Harris v PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (2005) 125 CA4th 1219, 1262 n28, 23 CR3d 529, rev’d on other grounds (2006) 39 C4th 1220, 48 CR3d 144).
The penalty for failing to comply with the separate statement requirements is huge—it could be grounds for denying the motion. CCP §437c(b)(1).
Now that you know how important the separate statement is to the success of your motion, here are some questions to ask yourself as you prepare one:
1. Are specific facts set out showing the existence of a triable issue of material fact as to the cause of action or defense?
- Are only the undisputed material facts laid out?
- Are only necessary facts laid out?
- Are any facts overstated?
2. Is evidence identified for each fact?
- Is there a logical relationship between the facts stated and the supporting evidence?
- Is the evidence susceptible of more than one meaning?
- What additional evidence would make the case stronger?
3. Is the separate statement in a separate document?
4. Is the separate statement in a two-column format?
Help on understanding and answering each of these questions can be found in CEB’s California Summary Judgment, chap 6. Before you even begin your summary judgment motion, check out our blog post 10 Things to Check Before Moving for Summary Judgment.
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