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Federal Bar Update: Avoid multiple summary judgment motions

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Federal Bar UpdateThe Southern District of Indiana has amended its Uniform Case Management Plan to include the following language regarding summary judgment motions:

Absent leave of court, and for good cause shown, all issues raised on summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 must be raised by a party in a single motion.

(emphasis in original).

This new language derives from concern that some litigants were filing multiple summary judgment motions to bypass the court’s 35-page limit for summary judgment briefs. The new language from the Uniform Case Management Plan recognizes that there can be good cause for more than one summary judgment motion. However, leave of court is now necessary.

For instance, an early issue in a case that benefits from a prompt summary judgment motion – such as statute of limitations – would ordinarily seem to be a good candidate for a separate, early summary judgment motion. If denied, then a later summary judgment motion on the merits should still be available, subject, of course, to court approval upon a showing of good cause.

Notably, nothing in Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 precludes separate motions, and this rule as amended now expressly contemplates summary judgment motions on claims or defenses or any part of a claim or defense. The District Court, however, of course retains discretion over how and when motions are presented.

It will be prudent for practitioners to consider and address such issues in the case management plan and at the initial conference with the court. And, unless blessed in the case management plan, leave of court and good cause are now required for multiple summary judgment motions. The court’s 35-page limit is generous in comparison to many other courts, and filing multiple motions to bypass that limit is no longer available (and of course was likely never well received).

Uniform Patent Case Management Plans – The Southern District has amended its Uniform Patent Case Management Plans, with two different versions on its website. One version is not to be used in design patent cases or in cases assigned to Chief Judge Young, the other is for design patent cases or cases assigned to Chief Judge Young.

Mark Your Calendars- The Annual Federal Civil Practice Seminar will be held Friday, Dec. 16, in Indianapolis, starting at 1:30 p.m. Three hours CLE will be provided.•

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John Maley – jmaley@btlaw.com – is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters, and appeals. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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