On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a 5th Circuit decision that affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in Johnson v. City of Shelby. Here is the Court’s per curiam Opinion.

The plaintiffs worked as police officers for the City of Shelby. They alleged that they were fired for refusing to ignore an alderman’s criminal activity.

The District Court dismissed the Complaint because plaintiffs failed to specifically invoke 42 U.S.C. §1983 in their complaint. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. 

In reversing the Fifth Circuit, the Court stated:

federal pleading rules call for a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief’….they do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.

If you’re like me, you are wondering about Twombly and Iqbal. But the Court explained that they:

…are not in point, for they concern the factual allegations of a complaint must contain to survive a motion to dismiss. A plaintiff, they instruct, must plead facts sufficient to show that her claim has substantive plausibility. Petitioners’ complaint was not deficient in that regard….Having informed the city of the factual basis for their complaint, they were required to do no more to stave off threshold dismissal for want of an adequate statement of their claim. 

It appears that the Court granted cert and reversed all in one shot. That’s got to be a great feeling given the long odds on the Court granting cert in a case.

Jim Waide of Tupelo represented the plaintiffs.

Gary Friedman, William Harvey and LaToya Merritt with Phelps Dunbar in Jackson represented the City of Shelby.