Law School Case Brief
Twombly v. Bell Atl. Corp. - 425 F.3d 99 (2d Cir. 2005)
At least in theory when a complaint is filed by counsel, it arrives at the door of the district court with the warrant of counsel that allegations and other factual contentions contained in the complaint have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified—presumably by being stated as being to the best of his or her knowledge, information, and belief—are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3). As for the contents of the complaint, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) provides only that it shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief the pleader seeks. As the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized, the rules thus set forth a pleading standard under which plaintiffs are required to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. "Fair notice" is that which will enable the adverse party to answer and prepare for trial, allow the application of res judicata, and identify the nature of the case so that it may be assigned the proper form of trial.
Plaintiffs William Twombly and Lawrence Marcus, individually and on behalf of all other consumers similarly situated, filed a putative class action in federal district court against defendants Bell Atlantic Corporation and four other telecommunications companies. The complaint sought treble damages and injunctive relief pursuant to §§ 4 and 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C.S. §§ 15(a) and 26, for the defendants' alleged violations of § 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged in their amended complaint that defendants conspired to exclude competitors from, and not to compete against one another in, their respective geographic markets for local telephone and high-speed Internet services. On defendants' motion, the district court dismissed plaintiffs' amended compliant for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the district court erred by applying the heightened "plus factors" of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 ordinarily applicable as the standard of proof at the summary judgment and trial stages.
Did the district court err when it concluded that plaintiffs' amended complaint failed to allege sufficient facts from which a conspiracy could be inferred?
The court of appeals vacated the district court's order of dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court ruled that the district court applied an incorrect standard for evaluating defendants' motion to dismiss. Specifically, the court found that plaintiffs were not required to plead substantial allegations of facts beyond "conscious parallelism" sufficient to support an inference that defendants' actions were more likely than not conspiratorial under the permissive standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8.
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