Crossland Sav. v. Hatch
In Crossland Sav. v. Hatch, 877 P.2d 1241, 1243 (Utah 1994), the plaintiff sued the defendant for failure to pay a debt. 877 P.2d at 1242.
Four months after filing the complaint, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment. Id. The defendant opposed the motion by filing a rule 56(f) motion, memorandum in support, and an affidavit. Id.
The defendant argued:
(1) he needed time to understand the inconsistencies between the amount he allegedly owed as represented in the plaintiff's complaint and the amount he allegedly owed as represented in the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment;
(2) the plaintiff was "abusing the summary judgment process,";
(3) the defendant was entitled to confirm the plaintiff's sources to determine the accuracy of the amount the defendant owed;
(4) one of the affidavits supporting the motion for summary judgment did not provide enough detail, and; (5) the related bankruptcy proceedings initiated by the defendant had prevented him from pursuing discovery in the case. Id.
The district court denied the defendant's rule 56(f) motion. Id. at 1243.
In affirming the district court's denial of the rule 56(f) motion, this court considered the "individual circumstances of the case." Id. at 1244.
The Court found that the district court could have reasonably concluded that the defendant was dilatory in failing to initiate or pursue discovery, and although four months was a relatively short period of time, the case was simple enough that the defendant should have conducted discovery. Id. at 1243-44.
More importantly, the defendant had failed to identify any facts that he could discover that would preclude the court from granting summary judgment. Id. at 1244.
The Court noted that the defendant had access to relevant discovery, including material in his possession and information in the public record, and had sufficient resources to determine if any material facts existed that were in dispute and would preclude summary judgment. Id.
The defendant had a duty to seek out and alert the district court to such issues of material fact. Id. His failure to identify any discovery that would preclude the grant of summary judgment made his rule 56(f) motion futile. Id.