Common Examples of Motions

A motion can be used to ask the court for anything that a party needs in a case. There are many different kinds of motions. This section lists some of the motions that happen in court a lot. To learn how to make a motion, read How to Ask the Court for Something.


Motions to Dismiss

Instead of answering, a defendant or respondent can ask the court to dismiss all or part of the case by making a motion to dismiss. The defendant or respondent should ask the court to let him or her make a late Answer if the motion is denied.

Motions to dismiss are made for many different reasons. For example, if the defendant didn’t get the summons and complaint the right way, he or she can ask the court to dismiss the case. (See Examples of Bad Service). Or, if the plaintiff started the case in the wrong court or county, the court will dismiss the case. If the court grants these motions to dismiss, the case is over, but the plaintiff can correct the problem and start the case again. This is called a dismissal without prejudice.

Other motions to dismiss ask for dismissal with prejudice. This means that the case can’t be started again. For example, if the case is legally time barred by the statute of limitations or the plaintiff or petitioner does not have the right to start the case.

Read CPLR 3211.


Summary Judgment Motions

Court cases can be decided in a number of ways. Most cases never have a trial. A motion for summary judgment can decide all or part of a case. Either side can make a motion for summary judgment after an Answer has been filed in the case.

In a motion for summary judgment one side asks the court to decide the case based on arguments made in court papers. The moving side argues that there are no facts in dispute and a judgment should be granted without a trial. If the court decides that there is no question of the facts and the law, then the court can grant summary judgment. If the court grants summary judgment on all the claims, then the case is over. If the court finds it needs more information to decide the facts, then the summary judgment motion will be denied and the case will go on to a trial.

Read CPLR 3212.


Discovery Motions

While both sides are preparing for trial by exchanging information, motions can be used to ask the court to decide any discovery problems. For example, a party can make a motion to ask to allow him or her not to give the other side the discovery that was asked for. If a party thinks that a subpoena asks for documents that have nothing to do with the case, or asks for too much information, the party can make a motion to quash the subpoena. See CPLR 2304.

Or, a party can make a motion to make the other side give the discovery that he or she was asked for by making a motion to compel. See CPLR 3124.

If a party ignores the court’s order compelling discovery, the other side can ask the court to punish him or her for ignoring the court’s discovery order. For example, a motion to preclude asks the court to ban the testimony or evidence from being used in the case. A motion to strike asks the court to ban a pleading, like an Answer, from being used. See CPLR 3126. A motion for contempt asks the court to fine and/or jail the other side for ignoring the court’s order. There are special rules for making a contempt motion. See Jud. 756.


Vacate Default Judgment Motions

A party can ask the court to vacate (cancel) a default judgment by making a motion. But, the motion papers must tell the court the information needed by law to do so. See CPLR 5015(a). There are two main reasons when the court can vacate the default judgment: if there was bad service, or if there is both a good reason why the party defaulted and the party has a good reason why the other side should not win the case. For information on how to make this motion, see Vacating a Default Judgment.

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