Judgment on the pleadings in Federal Court is the topic of this blog post.
Judgment on the pleadings in Federal Court is authorized by Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 12(c) states that, "a party may move for judgment on the pleadings" after the pleadings are closed "but early enough not to delay trial."
In certain aspects this motion is somewhat similar to a motion for judgment on the pleadings in California in that a Rule 12(c) motion can be filed after an answer to the complaint has been filed.
However obtaining judgment on the pleadings in United States District Court requires the same showing as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in a published case that a Rule 12(c) motion is "`functionally identical'" to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and therefore the same legal standard applies.
In fact untimely motions to dismiss are sometimes treated as a motion for judgment on the pleadings. See Elvig v. Calvin Presbyterian Church, 375 F.3d 951, 954 (9th Cir. 2004).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that, “A judgment on the pleadings is a decision on the merits and we review it de novo."
A motion for judgment on the pleadings is proper "when the moving party clearly establishes on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." “A judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the pleadings as true, a party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
However a motion for judgment on the pleadings as with a motion to dismiss is not easily granted. "All allegations of fact by the party opposing the motion are accepted as true, and are construed in the light most favorable to that party." General Conference supra, 887 F.2d at 230.
A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) can be a very useful tool if used in the right situation. However it is very difficult to prevail unless the moving party can clearly establish that no material issues of fact need be resolved, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Attorneys or parties in California who would like to view a portion of a sample motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) in United States District Court can use the link shown below.
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The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
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