Three points in regards to pleadings:
  • 1. Pleading has not always been done the same way. It has evolved with the FRCP, what counts as a sufficient pleading today is different than earlier and different than state courts.
  • 2. Balance of interests, and tradeoffs between efficiency and fairness, etc.
  • 3. Decisions that are made about pleading are tied to the rest of the aspects of civil procedure: discovery, etc. What we ask at summary judgment is affected by what was required at pleading stage. If we don’t require lots to get plaintiff in, then we might well allow greater discovery by defendant since they need it to find out the details.
  • Compare new and old complaints, Yeazell, p. 329-330
  • Modern pleadings, especially in federal system, designed to achieve 3 things:
    • 1. Show that complaint was properly filed in terms of place and time.
      • Show court’s jurisdiction and venue.
      • Rule 8(a) first requires showing of WHY one is in federal court.
    • 2. Gives other side some information about what the case will involve and what needs to be investigated and/or proven
    • 3. Implicitly tells us something about the plaintiff’s legal theory that will enable us via Rule 12(b)(6) motion (sufficiency of complaint) to dismiss something as being based on a faulty/non-existent legal theory.
      • See also Rule 8(a)(2): "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (a cause of action).
      • Both a factual and legal/theoretical component.
      • Rule 12(b)(6): "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted"
        • Complying with 8(a)(2) provides immunity from 12(b)(6).
    • Stating a claim, see forms in Appendix at Rule 84 (Suppl. p. 162,167,171 for Complaints, Form 5)
    • Better place to distinguish claims is liberal discovery and summary judgment.
    • Deal with bad cases later, not so much at the front.
    • Less technical than earlier pleading requirements—seen to be unfair, too much of an insider’s game that punished those with less strong lawyers despite a good claim.
    • Complaint not a legal brief, but must reflect a possibly winning legal theory.
      • Must also specify what you want the court to do.
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