Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects Twombly & Iqbal “Plausibility Standard”.

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled the more stringent federal standard for pleadings does not apply to civil cases in Minnesota state courts.  The stringent Twombly/Iqbal pleading standard requires complaints to have enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.  Put differently, the complaint must contain factual allegations that raise a right to relief above a speculative level.

In Walsh v. U.S. Bank, N.A., — N.W.2d —, A13-0742 (Minn. Aug. 6, 2014), the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected federal courts’ heightened standard in favor of Minnesota’s traditional, more lenient pleading standard.  Minnesota’s pleading standard remains that a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it is possible on any evidence might be produced, consistent with the pleader’s theory, to grant relief demanded.  The court reaffirmed Minnesota is a “notice-pleading state” and will continue to allow minimal facts to survive a motion to dismiss.

The effect of this ruling is broad – effects every civil complaint in Minnesota.  In contrast with federal courts, where the sufficiency of the allegations may be tested at the outset under Twombly and Iqbal, defending parties will continue to have to trudge through discovery and bring a summary judgment, even where the complaint is speculative or implausible from the outset.  The effect will be to frustrate defending parties’ ability to resolve cases implausible cases before protracted discovery.

The Walsh decision gives defendants added incentive to timely remove cases to federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) (defendants generally have 30 days to remove a case to federal court).  Proper removal could mean the difference between early dismissal and protracted discovery.  If you have any questions about this, or any other matter, please contact us.