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Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly

Citation. 550 U.S. 544 (2007)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiffs sued Defendants for conspiracy under the Sherman Act.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a claim for conspiracy in violation of the Sherman Act must allege facts rising above mere speculation by plausibly suggesting a conspiracy.


Subscribers to local telephone and high-speed internet services (Plaintiffs) brought a suit against incumbent local exchanges carriers (Defendants) for conspiracy to preclude competition in violation of the Sherman Act. The complaint did not include evidence of the Defendants acting together, but did provide evidence of parallel conduct.


Did Plaintiffs sufficiently plead a claim that Defendants conspired to preclude competition in violation of the Sherman Act?


No, the Plaintiffs complaint failed to allege a plausible suggestion of conspiracy between the Defendants. The complaint is dismissed.


Justice Stevens

Justice Stevens dissented from the Court’s rule requiring a plausibility standard for pleading a claim. He argued it is contrary to the Rule 8(a)(2), case precedent, and would unjustly increase the cost of bringing a complaint.


Distinguishing Conley v. Gibson and Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., the Court clarified that the Rule 8(a)(2) pleading standard requires factual allegations that plausibly raise a right to relief above a speculative level. The Court concluded that the Plaintiffs did not provide sufficient facts alleging conspiracy under the Sherman Act, because the complaint only demonstrated parallel, individual conduct by each Defendant and not a concerted effort of conspiracy.

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