Conley v. Gibson Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Petitioner African-Americans, Conley et al., sought a declaratory judgment, injunction and damages against Respondents, Gibson et al., for Respondents’ failure to adequately represent them as members of their union.

Facts of the case


The issue is whether Petitioners failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.


The United States Supreme Court dismissed all three of Respondents arguments. Specifically, the Court held that Petitioner’s complaint satisfied Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Their complaint contained a short and plain statement of the claim. The complaint sufficiently stated circumstances in which there was a harm done and wherein there was a judicial remedy. Petitioners did not have to list a set of detailed facts supporting their complaint.


In reversing the judgment, the Court held that the dismissal of the railroad workers’ complaint for lack of jurisdiction was in error because the Board lacked power under 45 U.S.C.S. § 153 or any other provision under the Railroad Labor Act to protect them from the alleged discrimination. The Court also determined that the railroad workers’ employer was not an indispensable party required to be joined because the action was not directly or indirectly against the railroad and because no relief was asked from the railroad or would bind the railroad. The railroad workers’ complaint adequately set forth a claim upon which relief could be granted because there were facts which, if proven, would support the railroad workers’ claims and would entitle them to their requested relief.

  • Case Brief: 1957
  • Petitioner: Conley
  • Respondent: Gibson
  • Decided by: Warren Court

Citation: 355 US 41 (1957)
Argued: Oct 21, 1957
Decided: Nov 18, 1957