June 18, 2014 Articles

"Self-Serving Testimony" and Summary Judgment Standards

Is there a split between the Fifth and Seventh Circuits?

By Jeffrey G. Close

Can uncorroborated, self-serving testimony stave off summary judgment in federal practice? As with so much in law, the answer is “it depends.” Understanding what it depends on can be the difference between winning and losing summary judgment.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has said on a number of occasions: “We long ago buried—or at least tried to bury—the misconception that uncorroborated testimony from the non-movant cannot prevent summary judgment because it is ‘self-serving.’” See, e.g., Berry v. Chicago Transit Auth., 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010). More recently, however, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said: “A party’s uncorroborated self-serving testimony cannot prevent summary judgment, particularly if the overwhelming documentary evidence supports the opposite scenario.” Vinewood Capital LLC v. Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust, 2013 WL 5530539 (5th Cir. Oct. 8, 2013).

A circuit split? Or is something else going on?

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