Swanson v. Citibank, N.A.

614 F.3d 400 (7th Cir. 2010)



It is a pleader's responsibility to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Plausibility in this context does not imply that the district court should decide whose version to believe, or which version is more likely than not. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement. The plaintiff must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together. In other words, the court will ask itself could these things have happened, not did they happen. For cases governed only by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, it is not necessary to stack up inferences side by side and allow the case to go forward only if the plaintiff's inferences seem more compelling than the opposing inferences.


Plaintiff filed a case against a bank and appraisers for common law fraud and violation of the Fair Housing Act. She alleged that the appraisers deliberately appraised plaintiff's home far below its actual value so that the bank would have an excuse to deny plaintiff's application for a home equity loan. Plaintiff believed that defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her race. In her fraud claim, plaintiff alleged that the bank falsely announced plans to make federal funds available in the form of loans to all customers, when it actually intended to exclude African-American customers from those who would be eligible for the loans. The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The case was appealed.


Did the district court properly dismiss the claims?




The court held that plaintiff's allegations that discriminated against her because of her race in connection with the appraisal of her home and the denial of her loan application were sufficient under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) to state a claim for violation of the Fair Housing Act. The court, however, held that the fraud claim did not satisfy the pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) because plaintiff did not allege that she lost anything as a result of relying on the alleged false statement and applying for a loan. Plaintiff did not indicate whether there was a loan application fee or if the bank or plaintiff covered the cost of the appraisal.

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