Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Adam Liptak of the New York Times has an article in yesterday's Times on how Iqbal has affected pleading thus far. He notes that the decision has already been cited over 500 times in the last 2 months. Here's an excerpt with a quote from Steve Burbank:
The Iqbal decision now requires plaintiffs to come forward with concrete facts at the outset, and it instructs lower court judges to dismiss lawsuits that strike them as implausible.
“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the five-justice majority, “requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Note those words: Plausible. Common sense.
The old world was mechanical. A lawsuit that mouthed the required words was off and running. As the Supreme Court said in 1957 in Conley v. Gibson, a lawsuit should be allowed to go forward “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Things started to change two years ago, when the Supreme Court found a complaint in an antitrust suit implausible.
In the new world, after Iqbal, a lawsuit has to satisfy a skeptical judicial gatekeeper.
“It obviously licenses highly subjective judgments,” said Stephen B. Burbank, an authority on civil procedure at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “This is a blank check for federal judges to get rid of cases they disfavor.”
Courts applying Iqbal have been busy. A federal judge in Connecticut dismissed a disability discrimination suit this month, saying that Iqbal required her to treat the plaintiff’s assertions as implausible. A few days later, the federal appeals court in New York dismissed a breach of contract and securities fraud suit after concluding that its account of the defendants’ asserted wrongdoing was too speculative.
Steve Burbank has an article titled Pleading and the Dilemmas of 'General Rules,' which discusses both Iqbal and Twombly. The Article is available here through SSRN.