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Volume 54

A Preview of Issue 1:

Restoring Fair Notice: It is Time to Revisit Alabama's Pleading Standard


An excerpt: 

Liberalizing pleading requirements was an admirable goal when Alabama adopted the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure in 1973. Alabama’s historic pleading standard required that its courts construe the complaint against the plaintiff. That was a tough standard in a time when witnesses and documents were not readily accessible through telephone or internet. Notice pleading’s concept—that a complaint must only give a defendant fair notice of the plaintiff’s claims—seems fair on its face. As does the concept that a motion to dismiss is only proper when a plaintiff can prove no set of facts which entitle it to relief. But over the years, the cry of “Alabama is a notice pleading state!” led Alabama’s courts astray from requiring allegations that give a defendant fair notice. Instead, the barest allegations gained courts’ imprimatur. The same drift washed away the concept that a complaint must actually contain facts that support the claims and replaced it with the notion that a court can support an opinion denying a motion to dismiss by speculating “conceivable facts” not actually alleged in the complaint.

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