This is an extract of our The Pleadings document, which we sell as part of our Civil Procedure Outlines collection written by the top tier of NYU School Of Law students.
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THE PLEADINGS Commencing a Civil Action and Responding to it Pleadings, unlike motions that ask for a specific thing, don't ask a judge to do anything in particular. Pleadings just kick off a process. Pleadings include complaint, answer, cross-claim and counterclaim. A. The Complaint---Tightening Standards for Pleading a Federal Question: Twiqbal Rule 8: Complaint requires a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and a demand for the relief sought. Failure to state a claim is grounds for 12(b)(6) dismissal. E&E says: Complaint need not prove any facts or allege them in detail, just needs to allege the elements of a proper claim. Conley v Gibson (standard raised substantially in subsequent cases) FRCP does not require detailed claim, all they require is a short and plain statement of claim. Sets very low threshold for pleadings. A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim 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." Notice pleading---idea is that you just give the defendant enough facts that he knows what the claim is and the basic facts on which it rests, and he'll learn more through discovery. The purpose of pleadings is just to facilitate a proper decision on the merits. Bell Atlantic v Twombly: Raises the standard from plausibility to probability. Twombly alleges that the baby bells' parallel conduct in staying out of each other's territory violates the Sherman Act. But it is not illegal to act noncompetitively, its just illegal to collude. So court would have to figure out whether this is illegal collusion. Antitrust discovery is lengthy and costly. The facts must "nudge the claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Court also distinguishes between legal conclusions and allegations about facts. A few stray statements that speak directly of an agreement are merely legal conclusions. Well-pleaded complaint must state facts that make claim plausible. Ashcroft v Iqbal---further tightens standard Question here was whether the plaintiff plead a factual matter that, if taken as true, states a claim that defendants deprived him of his constitutional rights. Plausibility is not probability. But it is more than possibility. Conclusory allegations are not entitled to be assumed true, and do not constitute sufficient facts to cross the Twombly line from conceivable to plausible.
Plaintiff sufficiently alleged that he was designated a suspect b/c of his race, but not that Ashcroft intentionally discriminated because of his race. Twombly is not limited to antitrust., but is it limited to cases with expensive discovery?
Souter dissent: Facts are there, majority just chooses not do address them. Facts must be taken as true, with the sole exception for allegations that are "sufficiently fantastic to defy reality as we know it: claims about little green men, or the plaintiff's recent trip to Pluto." Policy Concerns: If we make it harder for private citizens to bring these claims, who will do the policing?
Efficiency concerns. Stevens dissent in Twombly wants defendants to at least have to answer complaints, thinks Sherman Act included a private remedy for a reason, and this holding thwarts efforts at private enforcement. B. Responding to the Complaint Rule 8: A response must include
? Admit or Deny o If denying in part, must specify which part. Can also deny generally o If a responsive pleading is required and defendant fails to answer, that is akin to an admission
? Must state its defenses to each claim asserted, including o Assumption of risk, fraud, failure of consideration, res judicata, statute of limitations, et al, and as in Burnham, statutory med mal caps Rule 12: a) Must respond within 21 days of receiving summons and complaint, or within 60 days of waiving service b) The following defenses can be made by motion: lack of subjectmatter or personal jurisdiction; improper venue; insufficient process; insufficient service of process; failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and failure to join a party c) The following defenses are waived if not included in the pleading or motion Fuentes v Tucker Tucker admitted liability in his answer. Fuentes argued evidence that he was intoxicated to the jury, Tucker wants that evidence excluded. Court says you cannot introduce evidence that is material only to a moot point. If someone admits liability, the liability ceases to be an issue of fact, so it doesn't need to be tried. Court makes exception here because there's no evidence that the evidence unjustly influenced the jury, so doesn't want to go back and try the case all over. Rule 61 Harmless error ?does not result in a new trial. Zielinski v Philadelphia Piers Plaintiff injured in a forklift accident, sued the wrong company b/c didn't know that his former employer had sold the company.
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