October 6-7, 2023 Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel
& Conference Center
Defeating Summary Judgment in the Face
of Evolving Defense Tactics
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Fall Seminar Program

Friday, October 6, 2023

8:00–9:00 a.m.Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:45–9:00 a.m.Welcome & Opening Remarks
9:00-10:30 a.m.Framing Your Case to Defeat Summary Judgment
Moderator: Ianna Richardson
Speakers: Nina T. Pirrotti & Rebecca L. Salawdeh
From a persuasive and accurate fact section to picking and using the best legal standard for your case, the way a case is framed is vital to defeating a motion for summary judgment. Our panelists will address effective writing techniques, deposition and discovery strategies to frame your facts and how you can address your theory of liability instead of the defendants.
10:45 a.m.–12:00 p.m.The Art of the Appeal
Moderator: Ashley Wilson-Clark
Speakers: Matthew C. Helland & Dara Smith
With summary judgment motions granted regularly in employment cases, eventually you will appeal that decision. Our experts will discuss how to protect issues for appeal and successful strategies for appealing summary judgment decisions.
12:00–1:15 p.m.Luncheon
1:15–2:30 p.m.The Perpetual Problem of Pretext
Moderator/Speaker: Marcus G. Keegan
Speakers: Anita K. Bala & Samuel J. Cordes
Whether you are proceeding under a traditional McDonnell Douglas framework or merely trying to establish a material factual dispute, evidence that the defendant is, could be, lying goes a long way toward defeating summary judgment. This panel will cover common factual patterns that courts find can establish pretext, as well as what types of inferences courts consider "reasonable" in determining whether you have sufficient evidence of pretext to get to a jury.
3:00–4:15 p.m.Summary Judgement Jujitsu
Speakers: David L. Lee & Heather Newsom Leonard
The core philosophy of the martial art of jujitsu is to manipulate your opponent's force against them. This panel will teach you how to use your opponent’s tactics against them and succeed during summary judgment. Discover how to put the defense on the horns of a dilemma by either helping you prove your case or acknowledging the existence of material, disputed facts, and how to grapple with emerging defense strategies.
4:30–5:45 p.m.Ethical Issues in Summary Judgment
Speakers: John L. Mays, Roman A. Shaul & Janet E. Wise
This panel will discuss ethical issues relevant to summary judgment, including but not limited to, (a) candor to the Court (omission of material disputed facts, citing to adverse authority, etc.), (b) ex parte communication with employees of the Defendant to get statements to oppose summary judgment, and (c) duty to be knowledgeable of the law.
5:45–7:30 p.m.Reception
Generously sponsored by Barrett & Farahany, Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, and the National Institute for Workers’ Rights.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

8:00–9:00 a.m.Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00–10:15 a.m.CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Procedural Pitfalls & Safety Nets in Summary Judgment
Moderator/Speaker: Sonya C. Edwards
Speakers: Edward D. Buckley & Charles E. Guerrier
Summary judgment can be a minefield of procedural pitfalls that can make or break your case. From ensuring you do not miss or waive any issues, addressing summary judgment during scheduling conferences, and protecting your appeal, this session will help you create safety nets to protect your case.
Beyond Timing: Defeating Summary Judgment in Retaliation Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Christine T. Elzer
Speakers: Cassandra W. Lenning & Professor Daiquiri Steele
Summary judgment motions in retaliation cases often focus on one or two issues: protected activity and causation. Our panel of experts will discuss how to meet the element of protected activity and establish causation—even when you lack extremely close temporal proximity—and highlight a significant number of intracircuit splits every practitioner should know.
10:45 a.m.–12:00 p.m.CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Discovery Techniques & Strategies to Overcome Summary Judgment
Speakers: Kira Fonteneau & Adria L. Silva
Join our experts to learn the most effective strategies and techniques for obtaining critical testimony and admissions to defeat summary judgment, using technology to manage evidence, and moving from correlation to causation during the discovery phase.
Defeating Summary Judgment in Harassment Cases
Moderator: Leslie Palmer
Speakers: Amber Hurst & Donna Williams Rucker
Harassment cases are rife with mixed issues of fact and law that make them particularly vulnerable to summary judgment motions. This session will explore current trends in sexual harassment law and how to position your harassment case to get to a jury. Panelists will also address early cases interpreting the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.
12:30–1:00 p.m.Optional Screening: Untitled Jury Film
NELA is proud to debut a 30-minute sneak preview from Professor Suja Thomas’ upcoming documentary. Lawyer-turned-filmmaker Suja Thomas pulls back the curtain on the U.S. justice system—where innocent people regularly plead guilty and civil rights cases are routinely dismissed. The film follows Suja’s often comedic journey across the country and globe as she uncovers the hypocrisy inherent in the system and listens to people the system has failed to serve.
1:15–2:30 p.m.CONCURRENT SESSIONS
Moving Affirmatively–How To File Your Own Motion for Summary Judgment
Moderator/Speaker: Sacred B. Huff
Speakers: Anna Prakash & Brian P. Sanford
This panel will explore the various considerations in moving for summary judgment from a plaintiff perspective, either on a prima facie case or affirmative defense, in different types of employment cases.
Summary Judgment in ADA and FMLA Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Adeash “AJ” Lakraj
Speaker: Benjamin F. Barrett & Jacob C. Harksen
Claims that arise under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act often take a different form and have elements distinct from claims arising under other employment laws. Our panelists will help you understand these differences, identify the pitfalls to avoid when bringing claims under these statutes, and survey common defense tactics that are used to derail these cases at summary judgment.
2:45–4:00 p.m.Cutting Edge Issues in Summary Judgment
Moderator/Speaker: Amanda A. Farahany
Speakers: Thomas “Tom” J. Mew & Professor Suja Thomas
Staying up to date on the most recent developments in summary judgment jurisprudence is vital to your success as a litigator. From using Bostock to make causation inquiries easier to fighting summary judgment through a deeper understanding of bias, decision-making, and economic and social science research, this panel will keep you on the frontlines of emerging strategies and research.