A Return to Fact Pleading? Viable Complaints after Twombly
September 2007

In what will surely be one of the most analyzed decisions of the 2006–2007 Term, the U.S. Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly announced the “retirement” of the longstanding principle set forth 50 years ago in Conley v. Gibson that complaints 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.” The Court’s ruling is likely to have a significant impact on Arizona practice.

The “Short and Plain” Statement Rule
The Rules of Civil Procedure set forth a simple standard for assessing the substantive sufficiency of a complaint. Except for cases alleging fraud or mistake, a complaint need only contain “[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The federal Appendix of Forms illustrates this standard with short and simple “guide” complaints that contain little factual detail, but which are deemed “sufficient under the rules and are intended to indicate the simplicity and brevity of statement which the rules contemplate.”

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