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2.27

Iowa Supreme Court Rejects New Federal Standard for Motion to Dismiss; Refuses to Adopt “Plausibility” Test

by Ryan Koopmans | February 27, 2012

By Ryan Koopmans

The Iowa Supreme Court recently weighed in on the new federal standard to survive a motion to dismiss. 

In a tandem of rulings handed down in 2007 and 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court announced and defined a new “plausibility standard” for surviving a motion to dismiss in federal court.  The standard, announced in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, requires a complaint “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”  A claim is plausible, according to Ashcroft v. Iqbal, “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”  The plausibility standard is a tougher test to pass; it replaces a test that granted dismissal only when the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any set of facts.

Following Twombly and Iqbal, a number of state courts have been invited to adopt the plausibility standard.  Most have declined, and Iowa is the latest to join that group.  In a ruling handed down last week, the Iowa Supreme Court reaffirmed the “well-established standard” that a motion to dismiss will be granted only “when it appears to a certainty that a plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any statement of facts that could be proved in support of the claims asserted.”  Its reasoning was primarily twofold.  First, Iowa’s court system is not “facing the sort of systemic pressures that contributed to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal.”  Second, “such an important change” should be made, if at all, via the rulemaking process in order to allow consideration of input from all interested parties. 

The Iowa Supreme Court case is Hawkeye Foodservice Distribution, Inc. v. Iowa Educators Corporation.

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