Legal Memorandum: Pleading Requirements

Issue: Under federal law, what amount of specificity is required to be pled in order to establish the existence of an employment relationship when required to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Brief, simple assertion; Existence of an employment relationship; Defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 714 F.3d 1277
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 84, 8(a), 8(a)(2); Rule 12(b)(6)
Date: 03/01/2015

Rules 8(a), 84 and Form 13 of the Appendix to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only a brief, simple assertion of the existence of an employment relationship to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge on the issue.  See Hamilton v. Palm, 621 F.3d 816, 818 (8th Cir. 2010) (as incorporated by Fed. R. Civ. P. 84, Form 13 makes clear that an allegation in any negligence claim that the defendant acted as another’s "employer" satisfies Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)’s notice pleading requirement for this element).  Moreover, all federal courts of appeal to consider the issue recognize that the viability and brevity of the federal forms referred to in Rule 84 are not superseded by Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 652 (2009). 

To illustrate and demonstrate “the simplicity and brevity that these rules contemplate,” the Supreme Court adopted the official Forms that appear in the Appendix to the Rules.  See Rule 84.  The Advisory Committee Notes to the 1946 amendment to Rule 84 states that “[t]he amendment serves to emphasize that the forms contained in the Appendix of Forms are sufficient to withstand attack under the rules under which they are drawn, and that the practitioner using them may rely on them to that extent.”  Id.

Form 13 illustrates how simple and brief the allegation of an employment relationship may be.  The form demonstrates by example that it is a sufficient allegation of an employment relationship for the complaint to state merely that the defendant acted “as […]

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