Heightened Standard of Pleading Required Under Rule 8:? To Survive a Motion to Dismiss, Well Pleaded Factual Contentions Must be Plausible to the Court.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim, was arrested on criminal charges and detained by federal officials under restrictive conditions.?? Iqbal filed a Bivens action against numerous federal officials, including the former?? Attorney?? General?? John?? Ashcroft,?? and Robert Mueller, the Director of the FBI.
The complaint alleged, inter alia, that the government designated Iqbal a person of ?high interest?? on? account? of? his? race,? religion,? or national origin, in contravention of the First and Fifth Amendments; that the FBI, under Mueller?s direction, arrested and detained thousands of Arab Muslim men as part of its September 11th investigation; that the officials knew of, condoned, and ?willfully ?and ?maliciously? agreed ?to ?subject Iqbal? to? harsh? conditions? of? confinement? as ?a matter?? of?? policy,?? solely?? on?? account?? of?? the prohibited? factors, ?and ?for ?no ?legitimate penological interest; that Ashcroft was the policy?s ?principal architect? and Mueller was ?instrumental? in its adoption and execution. ?After the District Court denied a motion to dismiss on qualified immunity grounds, Ashcroft and Mueller filed an interlocutory appeal in the Second Circuit. ?The Court of Appeals affirmed, and ruled that the ?flexible plausibility standard? announced in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2008), was inapplicable, and that the Complaint was? ?adequate? ?to? ?allege? ?petitioners?? ?personal involvement in discriminatory decisions which, if true, violated clearly established constitutional law. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, 5-4.? ?In relevant part, the Court held that in cases such as this, ?where? vicarious? liability? does ?not ?apply, Iqbal must plead sufficient factual matter to show that the defendants adopted and implemented the detention policies at issue, not for a neutral, investigative reason, but for the purpose of discriminating on account of race, religion, or national origin. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain a ?short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled ?to? relief.????? ??[D]etailed ?factual allegations? are not required, but the Rule does call for sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ?state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.? ?Id., at 570. ?A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.
To sufficiently plead a claim, two working principles apply.? First, the tenet that a court must accept a complaint?s allegations as true is inapplicable to threadbare recitals of a cause of action?s elements, supported by mere conclusory statements.? ?Second, determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim is context- specific, requiring the reviewing court to draw on its experience and common sense. A court considering a motion to dismiss may begin? by? identifying? allegations? that,? because they are mere conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. ?While legal conclusions can provide the complaint?s framework, they must be supported by factual allegations.?? When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
The Court ruled that Iqbal?s pleadings did not comply with Rule 8.? ?The Court rejected his argument that Twombly should be limited to its antitrust context.?? It now would appear that the doctrine of supervisory liability, under either Section 1983 or Bivens, is very much in doubt.?Ashcroft v. Iqbal, — U.S. —-, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173
- Ed. 2d 868 (May 18, 2009).