Mistaken Dicta

Staubach Co. of Pennsylvania v. Galloway Automotive, LLC, 2010 WL 5376868 (App. Div. Dec. 3, 2010).  In this per curiam opinion, the court “recognize[d] that when the discovery end date has not yet passed, and discovery has not yet been completed, a judge should not grant a summary judgment motion as the matter ‘is not ripe for such consideration.’  Driscoll Constr. Co., Inc. v. Dep’t of Transp., 371 N.J. Super. 304, 317-18 (App. Div. 2004).”  But in Driscoll, no discovery at all had been taken, which is why that court reversed summary judgment there.  371 N.J. Super. at 218.

Many cases have held that summary judgment can be granted before discovery closes if, for example, discovery would not change the result on a legal issue.  E.g., Minoia v. Kushner, 365 N.J. Super. 304, 307 (App. Div. 2004) (”discovery need not be undertaken or completed if it patently will not change the outcome”); Auster v. Kinoian, 153 N.J. Super.52, 56 (App. Div. 1977).  Staubach is not precedential, and practitioners should not take too literally the loose statement in Staubach that summary judgment is unavailable before the discovery end date.