Why a Summary Judgment Appeal Must Challenge All Grounds

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on February 28, 2014

I have to say that I love the more in-depth cases really telling the tale as to the why the law is what it is. Case in point: we have a particular case between the Campbells and Kvammes, two neighbors, disputing the issue of whether or not a fence in question constituted a true boundary.  The Campbells, of course, took the initiative initially in the case, submitting a land survey to the court for proper evaluation. Sadly, though, the court dismissed it due to a lack of “adequate foundation,” as it were, and therefore awarded the summary judgment for whether or not the fence was a true boundary to the Kvammes.fence

This is where it gets sort of interesting, though: the Campbells appealed, of course, to the Supreme Court, stating that the district court abused its discretion. To go into more detail, consider this – there were two independent “grounds” for dismissal of the case and award to the Kvammes the summary judgment, but the Campbells ended up appealing “only one of them.” Is that possible? Can a party focus on just one ‘aspect’ of a decision as the basis for an appeal?

Apparently not. By law, if you were to appeal a summary judgment, the challenge must be on all grounds, not just on a part. Needless to say, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision, and the Campbells were left with the truth at hand.

Let that be a lesson. Appeals are a necessity in the law. You, however, can’t pick and choose what parts to argue over. When you appeal, appeal for the whole thing. Whether or not the Supreme Court will agree with only part of it or all of it won’t necessarily matter in terms of how they’ll decide.

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