Summary judgment doesn't always end the case

When you are dealing with civil litigation, a summary judgment against you can be disheartening. Just as you might be gearing up for a trial or further hearings, the trial court might grant a motion for summary judgment on some technicality or fact. Many times, judgments are granted on misrepresented or misunderstood facts, which is why the appeals process is in place.

In one Oregon case, a man filed claims against an employer, stating that the employer retaliated against him for complaining about racial discrimination. According to documents, the man filed claims for discrimination, retaliation for speaking out about the discrimination and retaliation for whistleblowing.

The trial court reportedly granted the employer -- who was the defendant in the case -- a motion for summary judgment. It then entered a judgment dismissing the case with prejudice. The plaintiff appealed the case.

The plaintiff's appeal noted that he presented the right information and evidence for each claim, so the defendants were not eligible for such a judgment. The appeals court agreed with the man on the two claims regarding discrimination and it reversed the trial court's summary judgment in those cases. It remanded those claims back to the trial court for further proceeding. The appeals court did not, however, agree with the plaintiff about the whistleblower claim. In that instance, it upheld the trial court finding.

This case is a good illustration of how the appeals court can reverse mistakes at the trial court level. It also shows how the process is never simple, making it a good idea to consult an experienced law professional at every step.

Source: Court of Appeals, "Javier Medina v. State of Oregon," June 02, 2016

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