Summary judgment is appropriate when the summary judgment record shows that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Mass. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A fact is “material” if it would affect the outcome of the suit. An issue is “genuine” where a reasonable finder of fact could return a verdict for the non-moving party.
The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a triable issue and that the summary judgment record entitles him to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party may satisfy its burden by submitting affirmative evidence that negates an essential element of the opposing party’s case or by demonstrating that the non-moving party has no reasonable expectation of proving an essential element of his case at trial.
Once the moving party establishes the absence of a triable issue, the party opposing the motion must respond and allege specific facts establishing the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. The opposing party cannot rest on his or her pleadings and mere assertions of disputed facts to defeat the motion. Moreover, the non-moving party cannot create a material issue of fact and defeat summary judgment simply by submitting affidavits that contradict its previously sworn statements.
If the moving party has carried its burden, and the opposing party has not responded with specific facts to establish a genuine, triable issue, the court grants the motion for summary judgment.