In order for a case to be dismissed on summary judgment, there needs to be a clear and obvious outcome that precludes the need to hold a jury trial. A judge may grant a motion for summary judgment if there is only one possible conclusion a jury could find. The idea is that if it is already obvious which way the jury will find, then there does not need to be a jury trial. However, if there are any unresolved issues of fact which remain to be decided upon, then the civil suit needs to proceed to trial.
The Illinois Appellate court recently reviewed a trial judge’s dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit after granting summary judgment in favor of the defense; Gregory Gvillo v. DeCamp Junction, 2011 IL App. (5th) 100262 (October 31, 2011). The defendants claimed that the plaintiff’s claim was precluded under the contract sports exception, whereas the plaintiff contended that it did not apply based on the defendants willful and wanton misconduct. While the appellate court agreed with the defendants, it still found that the defendants were not entitled to summary judgment because a genuine issue of fact remained unresolved.
Gvillo was filed after Gregory Gvillo suffered an ankle fracture and nerve injury during a softball game. Gvillo was playing first base at the time of his softball injury when Aron Klenke was running towards first base when he collided with Gvillo. Gvillo filed a personal injury lawsuit against DeCamp Junction, Inc. and Jim Moultrie for not setting the softball field up according to Amateur Softball Association (ASA) guidelines. Gvillo also filed a claim against Klenke for his role in Gvillo’s personal injury.