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Civil Procedure I
University of Illinois School of Law
Winship, Verity

Civil Procedure Winship Fall 2017

Anatomy of a litigation

starting the suit (filing complaint; service or process) -> answer -> discovery -> pretrial -> trial ->

judgment entered -> appeal


FRCP 8(a): general rules of pleading

(a): claim for relief -> the minimum standard

Short and plain statement of grounds for jurisdiction
Short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief
Demand for relief sought

Line of case:

Conley v. Gibson: retired
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema: still good law -> sufficient complaint to survive motion to dismisss
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly: insufficient complaint to survive motion to dismiss
Ashcroft v. Iqbal: insufficient complaint to survive motion to dismiss


Conley v. Gibson:

Challenge to a pleading on a 12(b)(6) motion

even if all of the facts are true, there is no legal relief)
All pleadings are challenged on this rule

12(b)(6) motion: motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim

i.e. your complaint doesn’t meet the standards in Rule
A complaint shall not be dismissed unless it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff could prove no set of facts entitle him to relief (plaintiff-friendly standard)
Simple “notice pleading” is made possible b/c discovery & other pretrial procedures (e.g., summary judgment) give other opportunities for dismissing the case due to lack of dispute

Swierkiewicz v. Sorema:

Rule: a complaint in an employment discrimination suit need only contain a short statement of facts in order to be sufficient

Bell Atlantic v. Twombly: dismissed

Rule: to state a claim under § 1 of the Sherman Act (antitrust), the complaint must contain enough factual material to suggest that an agreement exist between the defendants
The alleged wrongdoing & action must be plausible. Conceivable is not plausible.

This is the line b/w factually neutral & factually suggestive.

Must be factually suggestive to be plausible and meet the pleading requirements.

Plaintiffs didn’t nudge their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible

NOT dismiss:

FRCP 8: short and plain statement / notice pleading 通知诉答
FRCP 9: in alleging fraud and mistake, a party must state with particularity the circumstances constitute fraud or mistake. -> heightened pleading

Plaintiff argument is that they don’t fall into this category -> generally pleaded

Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
Judges can manage expense


Settlement of nonmeritorious claims
FRCP8: require that statement show “entitlement to relief”

Do not overrule Swirkiewicz or Conley because notice pleading isn’t dead but heightened standard requirement of Iqbal: -> Adequate facts depend on the complexity of the case

Ashcroft v. Iqbal (S.Ct. 2009)

Rule: the pleading must have sufficient factual matter, accepted as true to state a claim of relief that is plausible on its face.

Plausibility is not akin to the probability requirement but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that defendant has acted unlawfully

Iqbal standard plausibility: there must be no better explanation
Iqbal instructions: they must be supported by factual allegations

Separate “legal conclusion” from “factual allegations”
Assume that the “factual allegations” are true
Do the “factual allegations” plausibly give rise to right to relief?

What happens if pleading is dismissed under 12(b)(6) motion?

Accept allegations in complaint as true, see if there are enough facts to state a claim that

is plausible on its face
As long as court has dismissed w/o prejudice, plaintiff can refile w/ more specific facts
If prejudice, plaintiff cannot refile in same court

Notice pleading concerns:

Want to get to the merits of the case, so if it is avoidable the fight should not be over


Define dispute early b/c it affects substantive/procedural law used

Want to simplify pleadings to only have notice pleading to give plaintiffs a chance to prove their case through discovery
Don’t want to encourage settlement of non-meritorious claims

an obvious one that the defendant had sufficient knowledge about, this answer has the effect of an admission
Once admitted, defendant cannot amend answer to deny the allegation when the amendment would greatly affect plaintiff’s right of recovery


Allegation is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied
Allegation is considered denied or avoided if the responsive pleading is not required.

Admission taken as fact for the rest of the litigation even if later found that admission not true.


David v. Crompton & Knowles: not rule -> just exception

Rule: a court may deny a request to amend an answer if the amendment will result in undue prejudice to the other party

Punitive exception to rule by treating Crompton’s lack of knowledge/info as an admission

Affirmative defenses: FRCP 8(c)

In response to any pleading (denial/admittance, affirmation, defense, counterclaim), a party must affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative defense in answer
Affirmative defense: defendant willing to admit a factual allegation but contends there was a justifiable reason for that action

Even if allegation is proven, there is an excuse recognized under law 申辩

defendant has burden of proof of proving existence of affirmative defense

if it is element of existing claim, plaintiff has burden 谁主张谁举证

If an affirmative defense is not pleaded, then that issue is not in the case and evidence relating to it is not admissible at trial (FRCP 8(b)(6) -> effect of failing to deny)

allegation as denied
To add would reply onFRCP15(a):an amendment can be granted when justice so requires