How to plead an oral contract claim under Twombly

In Highland Capital Management v. Bank of America, the Fifth Circuit reversed a Rule 12 dismissal of a claim for breach of an oral contract.  No. 11-11139 (Oct. 2, 2012).  The Court noted the practical difficulty of applying the legal test for intent to be bound by an oral contract, largely developed on summary judgment records, in the pleading context.  The Court acknowledged that after the phone call in which the plaintiff alleged the contract formed, email called their deal “subject to” further amendment.  The plaintiff, however, alleged sufficient facts about whether all material terms were agreed on in the call, the industry custom for the type of transaction, and the nature of the further discussions to state a plausible contract claim.  The Court affirmed the dismissal of a promissory estoppel claim for failure to adequately plead reliance.

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