Seventh Circuit Review


In Swanson v. Citibank, the Seventh Circuit debated with new vigor how to properly interpret and apply the Supreme Court's requirement that all complaints state a plausible claim. Following the Supreme Court's decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, if a complaint in any civil case does not state "a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," then it fails to meet the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) and is subject to dismissal under Federal Rule 12(b)(6). In Swanson, Judge Diane Wood advocated for a liberal interpretation of Twombly and Iqbal's plausibility requirement. She held that a complaint must only present "a story that holds together" to meet the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) following Twombly and Iqbal. In dissent, Judge Posner advocated for a much stricter approach, which would require judges to rely on their "judicial experience and common sense" to assess whether a complaint's factual allegations override any "obvious alternative explanation" for the plaintiff's injury. This Note argues that Judge Wood's approach is the better one, not only because it is consistent with the traditional function of pleadings in the federal courts, but also because it leaves little room for judges deciding motions to dismiss to look beyond the allegations of the complaint or to draw inferences in favor of the party moving for dismissal.

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