The Forgotten Pleading

The Federal Courts Law Review, Volume 7, Issue 1 (Aug. 2013)

26 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2013

Date Written: August 2013


The Supreme Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal fundamentally retooled the pleading standard applicable to claims for relief. This marked transformation from the "no-set-of-facts" standard under Conely to the "plausibility" standard under Twombly/Iqbal has dominated the discussion of pleadings standards. Lingering in the shadows is the civil answer. As we explain throughout the article, the answer is an important and somewhat complex pleading that can create efficiencies and avoid headaches. But its requirements, intricacies, and functions are all too frequently overlooked.

We seek to bring the answer back into focus. Our article proceeds in three parts. Part I discusses the basics of the answer. Parts II and III respectively consider two of the primary functions of the answer: to admit and deny allegations in the complaint, and to state defenses. We do not purport to offer an exhaustive discussion of the law relating to an answer, but instead seek to highlight certain of its oft-forgotten and misunderstood aspects, and to remind lawyers that mastery of the answer is fundamental to achieving success (and avoiding painful procedural traps) in federal court. We also draw on experience and share practice pointers along the way.

Keywords: Pleadings, Complaint, Answer, Twombly, Iqbal, Affirmative Defenses, Negative Defenses, Pretrial Motion Practice, Rule 12(b) Motions, Federal Courts, Civil Procedure

JEL Classification: K00, K41

Suggested Citation

St. Eve, Amy and Zuckerman, Michael A., The Forgotten Pleading (August 2013). The Federal Courts Law Review, Volume 7, Issue 1 (Aug. 2013), Available at SSRN:

Amy St. Eve

U.S. District Court Judge ( email )

U.S. District Court
219 South Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Michael A. Zuckerman (Contact Author)

Jones Day ( email )

Chicago, IL 60610
United States

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