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TX Legal Motions: Summary vs. Dismiss

What is a motion for summary judgment? What is a motion to dismiss? What are the differences? Why are these differences important?

In Texas, as in many other jurisdictions, a Motion for Summary Judgment and a Motion to Dismiss are two distinct legal procedures, each with specific purposes and implications.

  1. Motion for Summary Judgment: This is a request made to the court by a party in a lawsuit, asking for a judgment to be made in their favor without a full trial. This motion is typically filed when the moving party believes that there are no material facts in dispute and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In other words, even if all the factual arguments by the opposing party are accepted as true, the moving party would still legally win the case. In Texas, this is governed by Rule 166a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

  2. Motion to Dismiss: This motion is filed by a defendant at the early stages of a lawsuit, asking the court to dismiss the case. The reasons for such a motion can vary. It might be because the court lacks jurisdiction, the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, non-compliance with a procedural rule, or other legal deficiencies in the plaintiff's case. The Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 91a specifically provides for dismissal of baseless causes of action.


  • Stage of Proceedings: A Motion to Dismiss is usually filed at the beginning of a lawsuit, while a Motion for Summary Judgment is typically filed after the discovery phase.

  • Basis: A Motion to Dismiss is often based on procedural issues or deficiencies in the legal basis of the claim, while a Motion for Summary Judgment is about the absence of factual disputes and a clear entitlement to judgment.

  • Outcome: If a Motion to Dismiss is granted, the case is closed without examining the merits of the claim. If a Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, it's a decision that one party should win based on the law and undisputed facts.

Importance and Why We Should Know the Differences:

  • Strategic Legal Planning: Understanding these motions helps attorneys in formulating legal strategies. For instance, knowing when to file these motions and under what circumstances can significantly affect the course of a lawsuit.

  • Cost and Time Efficiency: Both motions, if successful, can lead to a quicker resolution of a legal dispute, potentially saving time and legal costs.

  • Legal Rights Protection: For defendants, these motions are important tools to avoid unnecessary litigation when the claims against them are legally insufficient or factually unsupported.

It's crucial for parties involved in litigation to understand these differences as they can significantly impact the course and outcome of legal proceedings. Legal professionals often advise their clients on these matters to ensure informed decision-making throughout the litigation process.

(c) 2023 Christopher Meyer Law Firm, PLLC All Rights Reserved The information on this video is for general information, entertainment and educational purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney client relationship Please call (281) 845-2472 if you have any questions about this disclaimer.

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