The U.S. Supreme Court has extended the pleading standard it set forth in 2007 in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly. Twombly involved an antitrust conspiracy claim. The Court required that, in order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” This retired the previous Conley v. Gibson standard whereby a case was allowed to proceed unless it appeared beyond a doubt that the plaintiff could prove “no set of facts” in support of his claim. There has been some uncertainty about whether Twombly applies beyond the antitrust context.
The Court’s recent ruling in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, No. 07–1015 (May 18, 2009), ends that debate. The Court in Iqbal applied Twombly and dismissed a Pakistani Muslim’s complaint alleging that he was deprived of various constitutional protections on account of his race, religion, or national origin when he was arrested following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. By extending Twombly to a discrimination claim, the Court has now made clear that the Twombly standard applies to all civil actions in federal courts. Twombly and now Iqbal provide substantial support for lower courts to rigorously test factual allegations early in litigation, not just in antitrust conspiracy cases, but also in other types of antitrust cases and across other areas of law.