12(b)(6): VERSION A
A motion to dismiss is often the first response by a defendant when they are sued. These motions, filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), allege that the plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim under which relief can be granted. They narrow or even end the lawsuit, without engaging in costly discovery and trial preparations.
It’s no surprise that these motions are a common tactic, but how long does it take for a decision to be made?
Motions to dismiss under that rule must be filed alongside or prior to the filing of a response to the complaint; they usually must be filed within 21 days of the defendant receiving the complaint.
An analysis of nearly 43,000 motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim reveals that 12(b)(6) motions are often filed just one week after the case is filed, while unsurprisingly another group of motions are filed at the 21-day mark. Plenty of motions are filed after the 21 day limit, thanks to causes such as complaint amendments or delays in serving the defendant.
Motions to dismiss tend to take at least two weeks to resolve – motions resolved in under a week are much more likely to be denied, while those that the judge took more than a month to rule on are often at least partially granted.
With an average of just under a month for filing a 12(b)(6) motion, and two more months for a decision, full resolution can take an average of three months, or a financial quarter.