Brief of Professors of Civil Procedure as Amici Curiae in Wood v. Moss, No. 13-115
31 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 21, 2014
In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Court established the standards to determine whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted. That determination focuses on the elements of the claim and on the non-conclusory, factual matter alleged in that complaint. The sufficiency of a complaint must be established by reference to the alleged facts and the reasonable inferences that may be drawn therefrom. The question is whether those allegations and inferences plausibly suggest a claim upon which relief can be granted. Wood v. Moss, No. 13-115, now pending before the Supreme Court, raises the issue of what constitutes a reasonable inference under the Twombly-Iqbal standard. In our view, a reasonable inference is one on which reasonable minds may differ. It need not be the exclusive inference one may draw from the facts. Rather, it need only fall within the range of sensible, rational alternatives. We argue that the Court should adopt an approach to reasonable inferences that does not impose a restrictive pleading regime that is inconsistent with the principles underlying Rules 8(a)(2) and 12(b)(6) or with the Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal. The endorsed standard should recognize the primary role of district courts in making what is essentially a practical and commonsense judgment as to which inferences may be sufficient to support a claim. Certainly, a mechanical formula intended to instruct courts on how to identify a reasonable inference would serve neither the ends of justice nor principles of sound case-management.
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