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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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