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A Furor in the Federal Courts

Connecticut Law Tribune

November 30, 2009

Quoted in this Article: Attorney Charles Howard and Attorney Jill O'Toole.

Lee Sims sure had it nailed. Part of his role as the University of Connecticut School of Law’s head reference librarian is to track trends in court decisions. He writes about such things in his “Librarian At Law” blog. Over the summer, he noted a case that, on the surface was about a civil rights lawsuit brought by a terrorist suspect. But language in the U.S. Supreme Court decision seemed to change the pleading standards for civil cases in federal court, making it easier for defendants to get lawsuits dismissed before discovery.

At the time, Sims blogged that Ashcroft v. Iqbal was the most important case of the past term for the high court. Now that prediction seems to be coming true. A quick search of Sims’ computer research banks shows that Iqbal has been invoked in 2,798 cases nationwide in the past six months, mostly in defense motions to dismiss and judges’ responses. Already, 111 law reviews and journals have weighed in.

In Connecticut, a Westlaw search revealed 12 U.S. District Court decisions in which Iqbal was discussed (sometimes just briefly), with another 37 opinions in which the case was at least cited. Many of the cases involved employees suing employers for discriminatory behavior. Other cases involved inmates suing over prison conditions.

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