In 2007, the Supreme Court issued a bombshell of a case called Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, which caused both antitrust lawyers and civil procedure law professors to rethink how they go about their work.
For those of you not obsessed with law or antitrust, Twombly changed the antitrust pleading standards in federal court from one of extreme permissibility to the current “plausibility” standard.
Courts quickly began applying Twombly beyond antitrust cases, and it now is THE case for motions to dismiss that argue that plaintiffs have not plead enough to move to the next stage of litigation.
When the Supreme Court decided Twombly, it created a surge of excitement, and federal courts began dismissing cases left and right because plaintiffs had not alleged sufficient facts to show a “plausible” claim to relief, under antitrust or other laws.
Since then, I don’t think I have seen any antitrust complaint that wasn’t followed by a motion to dismiss, usually citing Twombly. Notably, courts coupled this elevated standard with refusals to start discovery until after plaintiffs leaped the motion-to-dismiss hurdle.
I believe, however, that the antitrust-pleading-standard pendulum is beginning to shift back toward the plaintiff.
Update: On November 10, 2014, the United States Supreme Court in Johnson v. City of Shelby issued a new plaintiff-friendly pleading decision.