November 2013 Vol. 112 No. 2 THE REVIEW

An Implausible Standard for Affirmative Defenses

Stephen Mayer

In the wake of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, the federal district courts split over whether to apply Twombly's plausibility standard to the pleading of affirmative defenses. Initially, a majority of district courts extended Twombly to defense pleadings, but recently the courts that have declined to extend the plausibility standard have gained majority status. This Note provides a comprehensive analysis of each side of the plausibility split, identifying several hidden assumptions motivating the district courts' decisions. Drawing from its analysis of the two opposing positions, this Note responds to the courts that have applied plausibility pleading to affirmative defenses by identifying several fundamental flaws in their appeals to tradition, policy, and the text of Rule 8. Due to misguided reliance on historical pleading practices, an imprecise reading of Twombly, and an overestimation of the availability of discovery for unpled or stricken affirmative defenses, these courts fail to recognize that extending plausibility pleading beyond the complaint imposes an asymmetrical and unfairly onerous burden on defendants. This Note concludes that the courts that extend Twombly to affirmative defenses do so in violation of both the canons of statutory construction and the principles of the Rules Enabling Act.

   //  VIEW PDF
& Other Current Events

Crawford v. Washington: A Ten Year Retrospective

No one disputes the significance of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), which fundamentally transformed Confrontation...

Come Back to the Boat, Justice Breyer!

I want to get Justice Breyer back on the right side of Confrontation Clause issues. In 1999, in Lilly...

Crawford v. Washington: The Next Ten Years

Imagine a world . . . in which the Supreme Court got it right the first time. That is,...

The Crawford Debacle

First a toast-to my colleague Jeff Fisher and his Crawford compatriot, Richard Friedman, on the...

Confrontation and the Re-Privatization of Domestic Violence

When the Supreme Court transformed the right of confrontation in Crawford v. Washington, the prosecution...
MAILING LIST
Sign Up to Join Our Mailing List