CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
Citation214 F. Supp. 1
Docket NumberNo. 14113-1.,14113-1.
PartiesLUMBERMENS MUTUAL CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. John B. EDELMAN, T. L. Lyon, Hattie Arnold, Sterling Arnold and Ray Dorrell, Defendants.
Decision Date14 February 1963

Sprinkle, Carter, Sprinkle & Larson, Kansas City, Mo., for plaintiff.

Albert J. Yonke, Kansas City, Mo., for Arnold and Dorrell.

Lane D. Bauer, Kansas City, Mo., for Edelman and Lyon.

JOHN W. OLIVER, District Judge.

Plaintiff insurance company seeks to invoke the discretionary jurisdiction vested in this Court by the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act. All named defendants have filed motions to dismiss.

It is undisputed that defendants Edelman and Lyon entered into a contract with the City of Kansas City, Missouri to replace certain revolving doors on the main entrance to the City Hall. Plaintiff insurance company alleges that after those doors had been replaced, possession was relinquished to the City and it took over the operation and control of the doors. Subsequent to that time, and on October 23, 1957, an accident occurred in connection with the doors. The defendants Hattie and Sterling Arnold and defendant Dorrell were allegedly injured in that accident and all three, by the same counsel who represent them in this court, instituted damage suits on their behalf in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, at Independence against defendants Edelman and Lyon. In two of those actions an additional defendant was joined but that defendant is not made a party in this action.

Plaintiff insurance company, under a reservation of right, undertook the defense of all three actions on behalf of Edelman and Lyon.

Hattie Arnold's case was tried first. She recovered a judgment in the amount of $30,000. That case pends on appeal in the Supreme Court of Missouri. Because no supersedeas bond was given pending appeal, an equitable action in the nature of garnishment in accordance with the usual Missouri procedure was instituted and is now pending in the State court against the plaintiff insurance company that seeks to have this Court exercise its discretionary jurisdiction.

Plaintiff insurance company does not deny that the issues relating to the scope of coverage of the policy it issued Edelman and Lyon as those issues are joined in the State court garnishment action are the same issues of coverage that plaintiff seeks to have this Court determine in the pending case.

It would seem obvious that the garnishment proceeding in the State court is being stayed—and for that matter the trial of the other two pending damage suits are being stayed—until the determination of the pending appeal from the Hattie Arnold judgment by the Supreme Court of Missouri. Certainly the lawyers involved and all of the State court judges recognize that should the Supreme Court of Missouri reverse Hattie Arnold's judgment on the ground that no case can be made against Edelman and Lyon, the question of the scope of coverage in the insurance policy would become moot, not only in that case, but, as a practical matter, in the other two cases pending which arose out of the identical factual situation.

And it must also be recognized that should the Supreme Court of Missouri affirm Hattie Arnold's judgment, the issues the insurance company seeks to litigate in this Court are already joined for trial in the pending State court garnishment proceedings. No legal doubt exists but that those issues are properly before the State court for determination in the equitable action in the nature of garnishment. See Arditi v. Mass. Bonding & Ins. Co. (Supreme Court of Missouri, 1958) 315 S.W.2d 736.

From a practical standpoint there can be no legitimate doubt but that the determination of the State court in regard to the coverage question that would be involved in the State garnishment proceeding will effectively rule the identical legal question that could be said to be present potentially in connection with the other two cases that await trial.

Under these legal and factual circumstances we believe that we would abuse the judicial discretion vested by the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act if we accept and exercise the general jurisdiction conferred on a District Court of the United States by that legislation.

The leading case, Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co., 316 U.S. 491, 62 S.Ct. 1173, 86 L.Ed. 1620 (1942), teaches that "ordinarily it would be uneconomical as well as vexatious for a federal court to proceed in a declaratory judgment suit where another suit is pending in a state court presenting the same issues, not governed by federal law, between the same parties".

That case instructed District Courts that "gratuitous interference with the orderly and...

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3 cases
  • Vigilant Ins. Co. v. Behrenhausen, 94-0638-CV-W-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • June 13, 1995
    ...or to draw into the federal courts the adjudication of causes properly cognizable by courts of the states." Lumbermens Mut. Casualty Co. v. Edelman, 214 F.Supp. 1, 3 (W.D.Mo.1963) (citing Aetna Casualty & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321, 324 (4th Cir.1937)). The court in Indemnity Ins. Co.......
  • National U. Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. LIPPERT BROS, INC., Civ. No. 02048.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • August 20, 1964
    ...Eighth Circuit in State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Bonwell, 248 F. 2d 862 (8th Cir. 1957). See also, Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co. v. Edelman, 214 F.Supp. 1 (W.D.Mo.1963); Westchester Fire Ins. Co. v. Larson, 199 F. Supp. 224 (D.Minn.1961). As the statement of facts indicates, ther......
  • Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. El Dorado Springs R-2 Sch. Dist.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • March 7, 1967
    ...courts of the states. This language was adopted by the Eighth Circuit in the State Farm Mutual case, supra. Lumbermens Mutual Cas. Co. v. Edelman, 214 F.Supp. 1, 3 (W.D.Mo. 1963). As plaintiff pointed out in its brief the cases cited above on the point of identity of issues in competing act......

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