Friday, February 08, 2008

N.D. W.Va. Mentions Twombly and Finds that Complaint Satisfies Plausibility Pleading Standard

Per Herman Strauss, Inc. v. Esmark Inc., Slip Copy, 2008 WL 313857 (N.D. W.Va. Feb. 04, 2008).

In the wake of Twombly, uncertainty exists regarding the level of pleading required to satisfy Rule 8, which prior to Twombly was understood as requiring pure notice pleading in all manner of cases except those identified in Rule 9. See Anderson v. Sara Lee Corp., 508 F.3d 181, 188 n. 7 (4th Cir.2007) (“courts and commentators have been grappling with the decision's meaning and reach”); Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143 (2d Cir.2007) ( “[c]onsiderable uncertainty concerning the standard for assessing the adequacy of pleadings has recently been created by the Supreme Court's decision in [ Twombly ]”). Specifically, it is unclear whether Twombly alters the pleading standard only for complex antitrust cases or whether it has a broader application. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has not yet offered guidance regarding the reach of Twombly. In disposing of Esmark's motion to dismiss, however, it is unnecessary for this Court to resolve the question. Even assuming, as Esmark argues, that Twombly requires courts to use a plausibility standard in all cases, HSI's complaint does not fail to meet that standard.

A review of the complaint reveals that HSI has met its obligation to “provide the ‘grounds' of [its] ‘entitlement to relief’ “ by setting forth “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements....” Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1965. The plaintiff alleges that HSI and Wheeling Pitt entered into certain contractual agreements for the supply of scrap metal (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 13) and that Esmark intentionally interfered with the contractual relationship by obtaining a written agreement from one or more scrap companies to replace HSI as Wheeling Pitt's scrap supplier, by publically announcing its intention to restructure Wheeling Pitt's scrap supply relationship, and by inducing Wheeling Pitt to breach the Agreements (Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 19-21). The plaintiff also alleges that the alleged acts of interference caused Wheeling Pitt to breach and ultimately terminate the Agreements (Pl's Compl. ¶¶ 23, 27-35) and that HSI suffered $ 18, 400, 638.56 in damages (Pl's Compl. ¶¶ 36-37). These allegations set forth sufficient facts to state a claim for tortious interference that is plausible on its face. See Torbett v. Wheeling Dollar Savings & Trust Co., 314 S.E.2d 166, 173 (W.Va.1984)(setting forth elements for claim of tortious interference).


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