Tuesday, July 28, 2009

federal courts - pleading - Twombly and Iqbal

Kamara v. Columbia Home Loans - 07/24/2009 - ED Pa.


The current standard for adequately pleading a claim was set out in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Under Twombly, to state a claim, a party’s factual allegations must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed and clarified the Twombly standard in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). The Iqbal Court explained that although a plaintiff is not required to make “detailed factual allegations,” Federal Rule 8 demands more than an “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. at 1949.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a party cannot allege “labels and conclusions.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 1927 S. Ct. at 1949.

A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads sufficient factual content to allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement,” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Id.

The Supreme Court has explained that “two working principles” underlie a motion to dismiss inquiry. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 1950.

Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is “a context specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but has not “shown,” that the pleader is entitled to relief within the meaning of Rule 8(a)(2).