Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Ignacio, 88-1923

Citation860 F.2d 353
Decision Date01 November 1988
Docket NumberNo. 88-1923,88-1923
PartiesFIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Cheryl A. IGNACIO; David A. Ignacio, son of Cheryl A. Ignacio; James Ignacio, Jr., son of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Jessica B. Feuerborn, daughter of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Jesse James Ignacio, son of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Richard G. Ignacio, son of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Mariana Charfauros Manley; Peter Quenga Manley; Chemray Coating Corp.; Admiral Insurance Company, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)

Page 353

860 F.2d 353
FIREMAN'S FUND INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Cheryl A. IGNACIO; David A. Ignacio, son of Cheryl A.
Ignacio; James Ignacio, Jr., son of Cheryl A. Ignacio;
Jessica B. Feuerborn, daughter of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Jesse
James Ignacio, son of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Richard G.
Ignacio, son of Cheryl A. Ignacio; Mariana Charfauros
Manley; Peter Quenga Manley; Chemray Coating Corp.;
Admiral Insurance Company, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 88-1923.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Oct. 4, 1988.
Decided Nov. 1, 1988.

Page 354

David A. Mair, Mair, Mair, Hogan & Spade, Agana, Guam, for plaintiff-appellant.

Melinda C. Swavely, McCully, Swavely & Lannen, P.C., Robert L. Keogh, Keogh & Butler, Agana, Guam, for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Guam.

Before ALARCON, FERGUSON and NORRIS, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

Appellant Fireman's Fund appeals the district court's dismissal of its action for a declaratory judgment that Fireman's Fund is not liable, as the insurer of a shipping company, to the victims of an explosion aboard the insured's vessel in Guam. The declaratory judgment action was brought while a tort action arising out of the accident, brought against the owner of the vessel and Fireman's Fund as its insured, was pending in the Superior Court of Guam.

Although the decision to grant or deny declaratory relief under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2201, is a matter initially committed to the discretion of the district court, see Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness v. Zolin, 812 F.2d 1103, 1112 (9th Cir.1987), on appeal we exercise our own "sound discretion" to determine the propriety of the district court's grant or denial of declaratory relief. See United States v. State of Washington, 759 F.2d 1353, 1356-57 (9th Cir.1985) (en banc). In effect, then, we review de novo the district court's ruling below. See Guerra v. Sutton, 783 F.2d 1371, 1376 (9th Cir.1986).

In deciding whether to grant or deny declaratory relief, courts base the exercise of their discretion on principles of "wise judicial administration," Mobil Oil Corp. v. City of Long Beach, 772 F.2d 534, 541 (9th Cir.1985), and in accordance with the purposes of the Declaratory Judgment Act. Shell Oil Co. v. Frusetta, 290 F.2d 689 (9th Cir.1961). In this case, the district court reasoned that allowing the declaratory judgment action would delay resolution of...

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