Thursday, January 10, 2008

S.D. Ill. Uses Twombly Standard to Dismiss Civil Rights Claim as Speculative

Per Neuman v. U.S., Slip Copy, 2008 WL 78785 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 07, 2008):

McNaught argues that Neuman's complaint contains only conclusory allegations that she conspired with others to violate his civil rights. Citing Bell Atlantic, McNaught argues that Rule 8 requires a plaintiff's complaint to include “enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of illegal agreement,” and that failure to do so may result in dismissal. 127 S.Ct. at 1969.

. . .

Here, Neuman's complaint stems from allegations that he was denied entrance into the Peoria County Courthouse and allegations of wrongdoing by federal judicial employees. However, the complaint fails to allege any facts specific to McNaught, other than that she is and was an Assistant Attorney General. Neuman sets forth no fact that would permit this Court to infer that there is a plausible claim for relief against McNaught. She is not said to have been involved in any of the incidents discussed in Neuman's complaint. Neuman merely speculates that McNaught was involved in a conspiracy with other government officials to violate his civil rights.

In his response to this motion to dismiss, Neuman repeatedly states that he “truly believes” that McNaught “may have known” about the alleged conspiracy. He further states, “I don't know but Karen McNaught may have been a moving force behind the deprivation of my Civil Rights....” Other formulations of these allegations include: “I truly believe that Karen McNaught knew the plaintiff's picture was being circulated by the defendants to identify him immediately so he could be retaliated against,” “I believe that it is possible that she know (sic) about the plaintiff's picture being circulated at the Peoria County Courthouse,” and “I believe she may know about everything that was happening within the Illinois states attorneys' office and the Sheriffs department within the courthouse at the time of the incident.”

The only factual information that Neuman provides is that McNaught was the attorney representing the Defendants at the time of the incident. As such, the allegations against McNaught are entirely speculative, conclusory, and without support. Such broad assertions are not sufficient under Rule 8. Because the complaint fails to set forth enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, all claims against McNaught must be dismissed.


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