Ruling on Motion Without Affording Opportunity to Respond
Rule 56(c)(2) establishes the notice requirement for summary-judgment motions. In order to ensure that an opposing party has a meaningful opportunity to respond, this rule requires that the trial court must allow a minimum of 10 days to pass between the date the hearing is set and the date of the actual hearing, unless the parties agree otherwise.
See Rule 56(c)(2), Ala. R. Civ. P.; Xiard v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., 581 So. 2d 826, 828 (Ala. 1991) ("We have held, because of due process considerations, that the provision of Rule 56(c)(2) stating that the summary-judgment motion 'shall be served at least ten (10) days before the time fixed for the hearing' is not to be applied literally, but that it will be applied to require a minimum of 10 days between the date the hearing is set and the date of the hearing.").
Rule 56(c)(2) reads:
"The motion for summary judgment, with all supporting materials, including any briefs, shall be served at least ten (10) days before the time fixed for the hearing, except that a court may conduct a hearing on less than ten (10) days' notice with the consent of the parties concerned. Subject to subparagraph (f) of this rule, any statement or affidavit in opposition shall be served at least two (2) days prior to the hearing."
In applying the provisions of Rule 56(c), trial courts are given limited discretion. Kelly v. Harrison, 547 So. 2d 443, 445 (Ala. 1989).
In fact, this Court has stated that a trial court may, within its discretion, dispense with the hearing altogether and rule on the motion without any further proceedings. See Pate v. Rollison Logging Equip., Inc., 628 So. 2d 337, 341 (Ala. 1993).