Dodson and Starger: FRCP 8 Pleading: Mapping Supreme Court Doctrine 1957-2011

Professor Scott Dodson of University of California Hastings and Professor Colin Starger of the University of Baltimore have posted FRCP 8 Pleading: Supreme Court Doctrine 1957-2011.

Here is the abstract:

Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal are the most important pleadings decisions the Supreme Court has ever issued. Yet the voluminous commentary on these decisions has tended to gloss over the complicated genealogy of the Court’s pleadings decisions from Conley v. Gibson to today. In particular, a number of under-appreciated cases, including Associated General, Papasan, and Broudo, laid foundation for the breakout Twombly decision. Commentary has further tended to elide subsequent cases, which appear to move away from Twombly and Iqbal, at least in result.

We map Twombly and Iqbal, along with their progenitors and their progeny, over time. Our depiction reveals that, prior to 2005, the Court maintained a relatively consistent adherence to very liberal pleading, with one outlier (Papasan), which was not cited during this time. From 2005 to 2009, the Court’s pleading standards became stricter. Twombly resurrected Papasan and questioned many of the prior decisions, and Iqbal represents the nadir of pleading liberality. The one outlier is Erickson, which is potentially distinguishable as a pro se case. In 2011, however, the Court seemed to relax pleading again, upholding complaints in two cases, Matrixx and Skinner. Skinner even cited to the 2002 case of Swierkiewicz but not to either Twombly or Iqbal.

The study uses Colin’s and Darren Kumasawa’s Supreme Court Mapping software, discussed in these earlier posts.

HT Colin Starger

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