Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (NRCP) 8 – General Rules of Pleading

Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (NRCP) 8 governs how a plaintiff must state a claim. NRCP 8 closely mirrors the federal rule, which largely covers claims for relief and defenses.

Claim Requirements Under NRCP 8

The initial pleading a plaintiff uses to state their claims or allegations is called a complaint. This rule applies to claims contained in original claims, counterclaims, cross-claims, and third-party claims.1 When drafting such a pleading, a claim must contain 1) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and 2) the judgment demand the pleader is seeking.2 A plaintiff may allege multiple claims.3 Additionally, the pleading must specify the specific judgment or amount they are seeking in relief.4 However, the claimant must only state “in excess of $10,000” for damages more than $10,000.5

What Constitutes a Sufficient Claim? (Twombly and Iqbal Rulings)

There has been significant debate over how much specificity constitutes a sufficient claim. Although unclear at times, the United States Supreme Court attempted to resolve these issues in the famous Twombly and Iqbal rulings. In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Court considered what a complaint must contain to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.6 The Court held that a 12(b)(6) complaint dismissal does not require appearance, beyond a doubt, that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of claim that would entitle him relief.7 The Court highlighted the plausibility standard, which requires a plaintiff to allege facts that tend to support their claim, even if it is later proven to be false.8 This plausibility standard does not require a “heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face”.9 Twombly also reaffirmed the legal principal that facts pleaded in a complaint must be taken as true on their face when analyzing a 12(b)(6) motion.10 Twombly seemingly provided some guidance, however it was unclear whether this established a new pleading standard, if it only narrowly applied in the antitrust context, and just how many facts are needed to show a claim is merely conceivable versus which are plausible.11

The United States Supreme Court clarified some of Twombly’s unanswered questions in Iqbal. Relying on Twombly, the Court reiterated that although the Rule 8 pleading standard does not require detailed factual allegations, conclusory and formulaic allegations will not suffice.12 Additionally, the plausibility standard does not arise to a probability requirement, but needs more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully.13 Together, “Twiqbal” (as the two are so affectionately nicknamed), resolves the issue of the scope of applicability and makes clear that all claims are subject to the plausibility pleading standard.14

Defending Party’s Opportunity to “Answer”

After receiving the claims, the defending party has the chance to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint.15 The response is known as an “answer.” Similar to a claim, a defense must utilize short and plain language that either admits or denies the other party’s allegations.16 Further, a defense must be given in response to each claim asserted by the other party.17 The defending party must state if there is not enough knowledge or information to sufficiently determine the truth of a specific allegation.18 This will be treated as a denial of the allegation.19 When intending to deny only part of an allegation, the pleader must specify which parts of the allegation are true and which are false.20 An answer must also state any affirmative defenses.21

Failure to Respond to Allegations

Failure to respond to allegations in a required responsive pleading will be considered an admittance of the allegation.22 However, nonresponse to an unrequired responsive pleading will be treated as denied or voided.23 Each allegation or response contained in a pleading must be simple, concise, and direct.24 However, the rule allows two or more statements of a claim or defense “alternatively or hypothetically”.25 In other words, a claim or defense can include inconsistent or competing elements, and still be sufficient as long as one of them is sufficient.26