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South Carolina Law Review

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In May 2007, the United States Supreme Court decided Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and sent shockwaves throughout the federal civil justice system. Reversing the Second Circuit, the Court held that an antitrust complaint that alleged mere parallel behavior among rival telecommunications companies, coupled with stray averments of agreement that amounted merely to legal conclusions, failed as a matter of law to state a claim for conspiracy in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act and had been properly dismissed by the trial court. The Court then proceeded to (1) redefine the concept of notice pleading by "retiring" the half-century old "no set of facts" standard that it had annunciated in Conley v. Gibson; (2) articulate a new "plausibility" standard against which to measure complaints, thereby raising the bar for pleadings in federal courts; and (3) remind district courts that they are gatekeepers, tasked with the responsibility of screening complaints at the motion to dismiss stage-in order to assure that speculative or insubstantial claims that are expensive for parties to litigate and costly for courts to administer are not allowed to "immerse the parties in the discovery swamp-'that Serbonian bog... where armies whole have sunk."' The upshot of Twombly is that defendants should be spared the rigors of discovery "unless the complaint provides enough information to enable an inference that the suit has sufficient merit to warrant putting the defendant to the burden of responding to at least a limited discovery demand."



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