KRAVITCH, Circuit Judge:
On August 22, 1981, appellants Donald and Faye Wallace executed an "Instalment Sale Contract" with Brownell Pontiac-GMC covering the purchase and financing of an automobile. Among the charges disclosed in the contract was the amount of $37.50, which was denominated as a "clerical fee." The Wallaces subsequently filed this truth-in-lending action, alleging that the "clerical fee" was either a charge incident to the extension of credit that was required to be disclosed in the finance charge and reflected in the annual percentage rate or was a charge included in the amount financed that should have been clearly and conspicuously itemized.
Appellants filed written interrogatories and a request for production at the same time as the complaint. Before responding to the discovery requests, appellee Brownell Pontiac-GMC filed a motion for summary judgment supported by the affidavit of its vice president and sales manager, Bill Farley. Appellee General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) filed a motion to dismiss. Appellants responded by filing motions to compel discovery and to strike the affidavit of Bill Farley as well as a response to the motion for summary judgment. The district court overruled appellants' motion to strike the affidavit, granted the motions of the appellees for summary judgment,
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, a motion for summary judgment is properly made "at any
The situation with which the appellants were faced — an outstanding motion for summary judgment before discovery was had — is contemplated by subsection (f) of the rule.
In the instant case, the Wallaces did not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f). Instead, they relied on their motions to compel discovery and to strike the Farley affidavit and their response to the motion for summary judgment. Although rule 56(f) is infused with a spirit of liberality, a trial court is under no obligation to treat such motions and responses as satisfying the requirements of subsection (f). Nevertheless, because the distinction is not crucial to the determination of this appeal, we will so treat the appellants' filings.
Thus, we must consider whether, viewing the litigation as a whole, the trial judge abused his discretion in granting summary judgment before appellants had the opportunity to undertake discovery. The answer lies in the disputed issue that informs this action — whether the designation of the
In Meyers v. Clearview Dodge Sales, Inc., 539 F.2d 511, 519 (5th Cir.1976), cert. denied sub nom., Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Meyers, 431 U.S. 929, 97 S.Ct. 2633, 53 L.Ed.2d 245 (1977), the Fifth Circuit ruled that documentary and make-ready fees such as the "clerical fee" imposed here may be imposed without separate itemization of the components of the charge. Inclusion of the "clerical fee" under the "Other Charges" section of the contract rather than the finance charge was also approved in Knighten v. Century Dodge, Inc., 607 F.2d 1096, 1097 (5th Cir.1979), and Layfield v. Bill Heard Chevrolet Co., 607 F.2d 1097, 1099 (5th Cir.1979), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 939, 100 S.Ct. 2161, 64 L.Ed.2d 793 (1980). Assuming that the clerical fee was imposed in all sales, whether cash or credit, which Farley's affidavit confirms, we find that the applicable case law entirely undermines appellants' substantive contentions.
The appellees properly moved for summary judgment and produced an affidavit from Farley supporting their position. To preclude summary judgment, the appellants either should have produced affidavits or other evidence contradicting the movants, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e), or explained their failure to do so under subsection (f). Treating their motions to compel and to strike Farley's affidavit as satisfying rule 56(f), we cannot determine that the trial judge abused his discretion by granting the motions for summary judgment. It would have been useless to continue discovery because the Fifth Circuit previously had decided the issue in question adversely to the appellants. The facts before the trial judge brought this case within the ambit of Meyers; hence, summary judgment was appropriate.
Appellants rely on Parrish v. Board of Comm'rs of Alabama State Bar, 533 F.2d 942, 948 (1976), for the principle that summary judgment may not be granted if discovery is not complete. In Parrish, the dispute involved allegations of discriminatory grading of bar examination papers. Access to those documents was crucial to the plaintiffs' case, and consequently, the court held it was error to grant summary judgment without first requiring production of the test papers. Parrish, however, does not stand for the blanket principle that appellants urge upon us. Using the same analysis that guides our decision, the Parrish court ruled that, upon the record before it, summary judgment was inappropriate. No such critical evidence was missing in this case. The "Instalment Sale Contract" was entered into the record. Parrish, consequently, is factually distinguishable from the instant appeal. Most, if not all, cases involving a rule 56(f) issue will be factually dissimilar. For this very reason, a blanket rule would be inappropriate.
We have considered appellants' other grounds of appeal and find them without merit. The decision whether to grant a continuance pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f) is committed to the sound discretion of the trial judge. Having determined that no abuse of that discretion occurred in this case, we AFFIRM.