Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Happens Now? Weighing Section 2056, the Federal Anderson Trilogy Standard and the State Constitutional Right to Trial

Over the past four years, many Oklahoma attorneys have wondered whether Section 2056 of the Oklahoma Pleading Code would forever change Oklahoma summary judgment standards. Section 2056 was enacted in 2009 as part of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act (CLRA). Until recently, the Oklahoma Supreme Court had remained silent on the role of Section 2056 in summary judgment proceedings. In November 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court entered a brief order according “precedential value” to an Oklahoma Civil Court of Appeals opinion, which in turn stated Section “2056 governs the procedure for summary judgment.”


At first glance, Section 2056 presents only a superficial change from the previously long-held standard in Rule 13 that judgment should be rendered if “there is no substantial controversy as to the material facts and ... one of the parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Substantively, Section 2056 merely substitutes the phrase “genuine issue” for “substantial controversy.” Can this modest change mark a fundamental shift in summary judgment jurisprudence?