Structural Group, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
ORDER denying deft's motion to stay 53 . (See order for complete details.) Signed by Honorable Christopher C. Conner on 06/06/11. (ki)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
STRUCTURAL GROUP, INC.,
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE :
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE :
Third Party Plaintiff
Third Party Defendant :
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:07-CV-01793
AND NOW, this 6th day of June, 2011, upon consideration of defendant
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company’s (“Liberty Insurance”) motion to stay (Doc.
53), wherein Liberty Insurance seeks to stay all proceedings in the above-captioned
case pending the resolution of a related proceeding before the Pennsylvania Board
of Claims (“Pennsylvania proceeding”), and wherein Liberty Insurance claims that
“the interests of justice, judicial economy and the risk of inconsistent judgements,
all point to the need for a stay,” (Doc. 55 at 22), and upon further consideration of
plaintiff Structural Group, Inc.’s (“Structural”) brief in opposition to the motion to
stay (Doc. 56), wherein Structural argues that it is not proper for the court to stay
the instant case in anticipation of a decision in the Pennsylvania proceeding, and
the court recognizing that it has authority to stay a proceeding,1 but that the
exercise of such authority “is an extraordinary and narrow exception to the duty of
a District Court to adjudicate a controversy properly before it,”2 and, following
Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254, 57 S. Ct. 163 (1936) (“the
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to
control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy . . .”).
Colo. River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 813, 96
S. Ct. 1236 (1976). The Supreme Court further stated that abdication of a district
court’s jurisdiction can be justified only “in the exceptional circumstances where
the order to repair to the state court would clearly serve an important
countervailing interest.” Id. The Colorado River Court defined abstention as
declining to exercise or postponement of the exercise of jurisdiction. Colorado
River, 96 S. Ct. at 813. The circumstances which warrant abstention pending a
state court’s decision are laid out by the Supreme Court: 1) if there is a “federal
constitutional issue which might be mooted or presented in a different posture by a
state court determination of pertinent state law;” 2) if there are “difficult questions
of state law bearing on policy problems of substantial public import;” 3) if “federal
jurisdiction has been invoked for the purpose of restraining state criminal
proceedings;” and 4) if there are other circumstances that warrant abstention in
consideration of “wise judicial administration, giving regard to conservation of
judicial resources and comprehensive disposition of litigation.” Id. at 814-17
(internal quotations omitted). The facts of the instant case do not fall under the
first three exceptions, and after taking the Landis factors into consideration, see
supra note 3, the court finds that the circumstances do not warrant an abstention.
consideration of the Landis factors,3 the court finding that the interests of justice
and judicial economy propounded by the pending motion do not satisfy the
“extraordinary and narrow exception[s]” that the Supreme Court defined in
Colorado River,4 and the court concluding that the risk of inconsistent judgements
is minimal,5 it is hereby ORDERED that the motion (Doc. 53) to stay is DENIED.
S/ Christopher C. Conner
CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER
United States District Judge
In Landis, the Supreme Court outlined the following considerations for a
court reviewing a motion to stay: (1) the length of the stay requested; (2) the
“hardship or inequity” that the movant would face from a denial of the stay; (3) the
injury that a stay would inflict upon the non-movant; and (4) whether a stay will
simplify issues and promote judicial economy. Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55. The
court finds that the length of stay is uncertain, as it depends upon the actions of a
state board; the movant would face minimal hardship from the denial of the stay;
the non-movant would be denied, for a second time, the opportunity to bring its
claim—which is independent of the Pennsylvania proceeding—before the court;
and a stay will not promote judicial economy in this proceeding, which has been
stayed on a prior occasion.
Supra note 2.
“[T]he mere potential for conflict in the results of adjudications, does not,
without more, warrant staying exercise of federal jurisdiction.” Colorado River, 424
U.S. at 816.
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