In simple terms, summary judgment can occur when there is no dispute about the key facts and one party wins because the law mandates that they prevail in light of those key, undisputed facts. Summary judgment is not a trial with a judge or jury where facts are determined. Granting summary judgment, however, usually disposes of a case and removes the necessity of trial. Accordingly, courts have been extremely skeptical when considering a motion for summary judgment due to the suspicion that denial of a party’s day in court borders on a denial of due process. Hammonds v. Jewish Hosp. Of St. Louis, 899 S.W.2d 527 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995).
Even though summary judgment is not a trial, the same evidentiary rules apply. Only evidence that is admissible at trial can be used to sustain or avoid summary judgment. United Petroleum v. Serv., Inc. v. Piatchek, 218 S.W.3d 477, 481 (Mo. Ct. App. 2007). For a document to be admissible as evidence in a summary judgment proceeding, therefore, it must meet a number of foundational requirements, including relevancy, authentication, the best evidence rule, and hearsay. Bank of America, N.A. v. Reynolds, 348 S.W.3d 858, 861 (Mo. Ct. App. 2011). Consequently, in addition to the merits of a motion for summary judgment, equal attention needs to be given to whether the exhibits used in support or opposition are procedurally sound.
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