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Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure Rule 56: Summary Judgment

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(a) Motions for Summary Judgment. A party may move for summary judgment subsequent to the commencement of any proceeding under these rules except in actions for divorce or in actions for custody or visitation or for criminal contempt. Each motion for summary judgment shall be accompanied by a "Affidavit of Undisputed Facts" which shall enumerate discretely each of the specific material facts relied upon in support of the motion and cite the particular portions of any pleading, affidavit, deposition, answer to interrogatories, admission or other document relied upon to establish that fact. The motion shall be served at least ten (10) days before the time fixed for the hearing. The moving party shall be responsible for filing with the Court all evidentiary documents cited in the moving papers. The motion for summary judgment shall be denied if the moving party fails to file and serve the affidavit required by this paragraph.

(b) Opposition. Any party opposing a motion for summary judgment shall file and serve no later than three (3) days before the time fixed for the hearing, unless the court otherwise orders, an affidavit using the same paragraph numbers as in the "Affidavit of Undisputed Facts" and admit those facts which are undisputed and deny those which are disputed, including with each denial a citation to the particular portions of any pleading, affidavit, deposition, answers to interrogatories, admission or other document relied upon in support of the denial. The opposing party may also file a concise "Affidavit of Disputed Facts," and the source thereof in the record, of all additional material facts as to which there is a genuine issue precluding summary judgment. The opposing party shall be responsible for the filing with the court of all evidentiary documents cited in the opposing papers. If a need for discovery is asserted as a basis for denial of the motion, the party opposing the motion shall provide a specification of the particular facts on which discovery is to be had or the issues on which discovery is necessary.

(c) Stipulated Facts. All interested parties may jointly file a stipulation setting forth a statement of stipulated facts to which all interested parties agree. As to any stipulated facts, the parties so stipulating may state that their stipulations are entered into only for the purposes of the motion for summary judgment and are not intended to be otherwise binding.

(1) In any pending motion for summary judgment, the assigned judge may order the parties to meet, confer and submit, on or before a date set by the assigned judge, a joint statement of undisputed facts.

(d) Deleted

(e) Form of Affidavits; Further Testimony; Defense Required. Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in any affidavits shall be attached thereto or served therewith. The court may permit affidavits to be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits. 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 pleading, but his response, by affidavits or as 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.

(f) When Affidavits Are Unavailable. Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that he cannot for reasons stated present by affidavit facts essential to justify his opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.

(g) Affidavits Made in Bad Faith. Should it appear to the satisfaction of the court at any time that any of the affidavits presented pursuant to this rule are presented in bad faith or solely for the purpose of delay, the court shall forthwith order the party employing them to pay to the other party the amount of the reasonable expenses which filing of the affidavit caused him to incur, including reasonable attorney's fees, and any offending party or attorney may be adjudged guilty of contempt.

(h) Judgment. The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and responses to requests for admission under Rule 36, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment, when appropriate, may be rendered against the moving party.

As added October 10, 1997, effective December 1, 1997; amended, effective January 1, 2000; June 5, 2003, effective September 2, 2003; April 1, 2009, effective May 1, 2009.

Reporter's Notes (2009). The amendment will allow for summary judgment in all cases exclusive of divorce actions, actions for custody or visitation or actions for criminal contempt.