dispositive fact

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A dispositive fact is a fact that, if proven with necessary certainty, resolves a legal dispute on its own. Oftentimes, establishing the truth of a dispositive fact will lead to the resolution of the lawsuit as a whole. 

For example, proving that the defendant never made contact with the plaintiff would be a dispositive fact in a battery claim brought by the plaintiff. If the parties never made contact, no battery was possible, and the court can dismiss the claim without analyzing the other elements of battery.  

As seen in Walters v. J. C. Penney Company Inc, a court cannot grant summary judgment if a dispositive fact is in dispute. 

[Last updated in August of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]