When There’s No There There: Celotex Motions On The Eve Of Trial

In Illinois, a defendant can bring two kinds of summary judgment motion. The first type of summary judgment motion presents evidence affirmatively showing that some element of the case must be resolved in defendant’s favor. By contrast, the second type of summary judgment motion, first recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 US 317 (1986), requests summary adjudication by pointing out the absence of evidence supporting plaintiff’s claim. This second type of summary judgment motion is often overlooked. Yet it can be a potent means of disposing of cases before trial, even after multiple years of discovery.

In July 2020, our firm filed a Celotex motion in a case that had been pending for almost ten years, seeking summary adjudication on grounds that even after ten years of litigation, the plaintiff had failed to adduce admissible record evidence to support each element of the eight counts of her complaint. The trial was set to commence in October 2020.

The opposition brief asserted, among other things, that Celotex is inapplicable to claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, an argument that we challenged in a reply brief, accessible HERE.

In September 2020, the Circuit Court granted the Celotex motion, ending litigation that commenced in December 2010.

In effect, Celotex says that there is no point going to trial in a case where the plaintiff has not generated a record containing admissible evidence to be presented at trial. When properly employed, a Celotex motion can spare the Court and the parties the burden and expense of trying a case that fundamentally lacks evidence.

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