• Supreme Court Significantly Tightens Requirements for Pleading Unlawful Agreements and Conspiracies in Antitrust and Other Cases
  • June 12, 2007 | Authors: Donald M. Barnes; Alan R. Malasky; Salvatore A. Romano
  • Law Firm: Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP - Washington Office
  • In order to survive a motion to dismiss prior to any discovery even being taken, the U.S. Supreme Court rules, a complaint claiming an agreement or conspiracy in violation of the Sherman Act "must allege enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of an illegal agreement." A plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions," and allegations that an agreement or conspiracy should be inferred from mere parallel business behavior will not suffice, particularly where such parallel behavior is consistent with the defendants' own economic interests. The long-standing rule that for 50 years precluded the dismissal of complaints "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief" is no longer good law. While just how much factual matter must now be contained in a complaint to satisfy the new standard is an open question, it seems likely that the standard will be applied to all complaints alleging illegal agreements or conspiracies, not just those involving the antitrust laws.