Legal Memorandum: Dismissal of a Complaint

Issue: When will a complaint be dismissed for failure to state a claim in the Third Circuit?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Dismissal of a complaint; Failure to state a claim; Sufficiency of a pleading test
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 518 F. Supp. 521; 382 F.2d 773; 795 F.2d 310; 130 F.2d 631
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), Rule 8(e)(1)
Date: 05/01/2005

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) governs dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim.  It is well settled that only a short, plain statement showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief is required for the complaint to withstand a motion to dismiss.  Cont’l Collieries v. Shober, 130 F.2d 631, 635 (3d Cir. 1942).  “Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure the function of the complaint is to afford fair notice to the adversary of the nature and basis of the claim asserted and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.”  Id. at 635.  Thus, “[t]he test in reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is whether, under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, plaintiff may be entitled to relief.”  Holder v. City of Allentown, 987 F.2d 188, 194 (3d Cir. 1993) (emphasis added).  The complaint is “deemed to allege sufficient facts if it is adequate to ‘put the proper defendants on notice of the essential elements of plaintiffs’ cause of action.'”  Id. at 194 (quoting District Council 47, AFSCME v. Bradley, 795 F.2d 310, 313 (3d Cir. 1986)).  The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has made clear that the plaintiff is accorded substantial leeway in drafting the complaint.

Complaints need not be models of precise information.  Rather, a complaint suffices when it serves fairly to notify the defendants of the facts and the alleged deprivation.  Moreover, when judged on […]

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