My parter, Joan Marshall, and I wrote an article just published by Law 360 titled: “In 2014 Plaintiffs Gained Some Ground Lost After Twombly.” The article reviewed some key antitrust cases at the motion to dismiss stage and examined how the courts applied the “plausible” pleading standards announced in Twombly to various elements of the alleged offense. (It is important to note that while Twombly involved and antitrust complaint, the Supreme Court announced a pleading standard that applied to all complaints. The vast majority of post-Twombly cases do not involve antitrust pleadings).
Twombly motions and decisions are of course fact specific so its a bit of a stretch to say there is a trend. The party who tells the best story consistent with Twombly and the underlying policy considerations will win. But, after several appeals courts reminded lower courts that the standard at the motion to dismiss stage was “plausbility,” it seems plaintiffs chances have improved. Reminders such as this certainly have helped plaintiffs:
First, at the pleading stage, the plaintiff is not required to allege facts showing that an unlawful agreement is more likely than lawful parallel conduct. * * *Second, in order to state a Section One claim, a plaintiff need not allege a fact pattern that “tends to exclude the possibility” of lawful, independent conduct. Erie County, Ohio v. Morton Salt, 702 F.3d 860, 868-69 (6th Cir. 2012).
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Thanks for reading.