There is no pleading requirement of stating facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, but only that there be a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a))
Plaintiff brought a negligence action against the Collector of Customs, alleging that he sold plaintiff's merchandise at a lower price than requested and that he was somehow responsible for the disappearance of some of plaintiff's goods. The district court dismissed the complaint for failing to state a cause of action. The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.
Must a complaint state a cause of action?
The Court ruled that under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) all that was required was a short and plain statement of claim showing entitlement to relief. Plaintiff was not required to plead facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, which is what the lower court appeared to be seeking. The court found that because a person in defendant's position could be held personally liable for negligence in performance of his duties, plaintiff sufficiently stated his claim.