Monday, March 7, 2011

Discussion of Pleading Standards in Today's SCOTUS Decision (Skinner v. Switzer)

Readers following federal pleading standards after Twombly and Iqbal may be interested in a snippet from today's Supreme Court opinion in Skinner v. Switzer. The opinion cites neither Twombly nor Iqbal but does cite the Court’s pre-Twombly pleading decisions Scheuer and Swierkiewicz. Here’s the relevant paragraph:

Because this case was resolved on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the question below was “not whether [Skinner] will ultimately prevail” on his procedural due process claim, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U. S. 232, 236 (1974), but whether his complaint was sufficient to cross the federal court’s threshold, see Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U. S. 506, 514 (2002). Skinner’s complaint is not a model of the careful drafter’s art, but under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need not pin plaintiff’s claim for relief to a precise legal theory. Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally requires only a plausible “short and plain” statement of the plaintiff’s claim, not an exposition of his legal argument. See 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure §1219, pp. 277–278 (3d ed. 2004 and Supp. 2010).


Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases, Twombly/Iqbal | Permalink


Interesting that it does say "_plausible_ 'short and plain' statement of the plaintiff's claim," however.

Posted by: Charles Campbell | Mar 8, 2011 6:28:00 AM

That's a nice catch--I missed that they only cited Swierkiewicz when I read it the first time. Does Twiqbal only come out for discovery-intensive cases? Or does Twiqbal only come out for factual sufficiency challenges rather than legal sufficiency (this case was about whether the claim could be brought through § 1983).

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Mar 10, 2011 7:06:21 AM

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