Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bell Atlantic v. Twombly case brief

Bell Atlantic v. Twombly case brief summary
550 U.S. 544 (2007)

Respondent subscribers to local telephone and Internet services brought an action against petitioner local exchange carriers, alleging that the carriers engaged in parallel conduct to preclude competition in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1. Upon the grant of a writ of certiorari, the carriers appealed the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which held that the subscribers sufficiently stated a claim.

The subscribers asserted that the carriers were former local monopolies which engaged in parallel billing and contracting misconduct designed to discourage new competitors from entering their markets through sharing of the carriers' networks. The subscribers also alleged that the carriers agreed not to compete outside their own markets.


  • The U.S. Supreme Court held that the subscribers' allegations that the carriers engaged in certain parallel conduct unfavorable to competition, absent some factual context suggesting agreement, were insufficient to state a claim under § 1 of the Sherman Act. 
  • To state such a violation, allegations of parallel conduct were required to be placed in a factual context which raised a plausible suggestion of a preceding agreement rather than identical independent action. 
  • Further, the subscribers' complaint did not indicate that the carriers' resistance to competitors was anything more than the natural, unilateral reaction of each carrier which was intent on keeping its regional dominance. 
  • Also, the alleged anti-competitive conduct of the carriers itself indicated that a carrier's attempt to compete in another carrier's market would not be profitable.
The judgment finding that the subscribers' complaint stated a claim was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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