June 21, 2010


In response to the uncertainty created by the United States Supreme Court's recent Twombly and Iqbal decisions, and pending legislation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the New York State Bar Association has recommended the establishment of a new pleading standard covering actions brought in federal court that would provide enhanced notification with respect to claims against defendants and also would require the plaintiff to provide more information regarding the basis for the relief being sought. The new standard, authored by the State Bar's Special Committee on Standards for Pleading in Federal Litigation, chaired by Samuel F. Abernethy, Esq. of New York (Menaker & Herrmann LLP), was approved at the State Bar's House of Delegates meeting in Cooperstown on June 19. 

The committee concluded that the current language of Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requiring a pleading that states a claim for relief to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," should be amended to read "a short and plain non-conclusory statement of grounds sufficient to provide notice of (a) the claim and (b) the relief sought." The committee also recommended that the promulgation of such a standard be accomplished through the process of review and consideration under the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

"The primary function of a pleading is to provide adequate notice of a plaintiff's claim to the defendant and to explain the grounds on which that claim was brought into court. Motion to dismiss should not result in the dismissal of meritorious cases before discovery has been taken," said State Bar President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP). "Our proposed new pleading standard will offer protection for defendants while at the same time allowing plaintiffs the opportunity to plead sufficient and relevant factual allegations in their cases. I want to thank Samuel Abernethy and the members of the special committee for their thoughtful and timely analysis on these issues and for proposing this important standard that will help to clarify pleading in federal court litigations."

The special committee was formed in response to two recent United States Supreme Court decisions centering on the issues of pleading in federal litigation actions: Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly.   

To view a copy of the special committee's report, please visit


The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.