United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Stay pursuant to the
Colorado River Abstention Doctrine, filed June 7,
2019. (ECF No. 29). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
case arises out of a Purchase Agreement and related,
contemporaneous transactions through which Plaintiff SanD
Development, LLC (“SanD”) acquired Plaintiff
LaBarge Coating, LLC (“Coating”) from Defendant
LaBarge C&R, LLC (“C&R”). In September,
2018, SanD and Coating filed suit in state court in Harris
County, Texas, alleging breach of the Purchase Agreement and
related torts surrounding the sale of Coating from C&R to
SanD. Defendants C&R and LaBarge Realty, LLC
(“Realty”) (with the consent of Defendant Pierre
L. LaBarge, III) removed the suit to the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Texas on October
22, 2018, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. In an Order
entered December 17, 2018, the United States District Judge
in Texas transferred the case to this Court, holding the
forum selection clause in the Purchase Agreement mandated
that any suit be filed in state or federal court located in
St. Louis, Missouri.
in October, 2018, C&R and Realty filed a state court
action in St. Louis County, Missouri, against SanD, Coating,
Suzanne M. Pawlow (“Pawlow”) and David W.
Kersting (“Kersting”). In their suit C&R and
Realty, among other things, ask that the Missouri State Court
rescind the Purchase Agreement because of alleged fraud.
Pawlow removed the case to federal court on November 8, 2018,
but in an Order entered May 9, 2019, Judge John A. Ross of
this Court remanded the case to the Circuit Court of St.
Louis County, where it remains pending.
noted above, Defendants here filed the instant motion on June
7, 2019, asking that the Court dismiss or stay this case
pursuant to the Colorado River abstention doctrine,
in favor of the parallel proceeding pending in the Circuit
Court of St. Louis County, Missouri.
River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424
U.S. 800 (1976), “permits federal courts to decline to
exercise jurisdiction over cases where parallel state court
litigation is pending, meaning that there is a substantial
likelihood that the state proceeding will fully dispose of
the claims presented in the federal court.” Spectra
Communications Group, LLC v. City of Cameron,
Mo., 806 F.3d 1113, 1121 (8th Cir. 2015)
(internal quotations and citations omitted).
This rule is based on considerations of wise judicial
administration, giving regard to conservation of judicial
resources and comprehensive disposition of litigation.
Nevertheless, federal courts have a virtually unflagging
obligation…to exercise the jurisdiction given them,
which does not evaporate simply because there is a pending
state court action involving the same subject matter. Rather,
Colorado River abstention is appropriate only in
exceptional circumstances where the surrender of federal
jurisdiction is supported by the clearest of justifications.
Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted).
“Thus, a federal court may divest itself of
jurisdiction by abstaining only when parallel state and
federal actions exist and exceptional circumstances warrant
abstention.” Fru-Con Constr. Corp. v. Controlled
Air, Inc., 574 F.3d 527, 534 (8th Cir. 2009)
determining whether exceptional circumstances warranting
abstention exist, the Court considers the following
(1) whether there is a res over which one court has
established jurisdiction, (2) the inconvenience of the
federal forum, (3) whether maintaining separate actions may
result in piecemeal litigation, unless the relevant law would
require piecemeal litigation and the federal court issue is
easily severed, (4) which case has priority-not necessarily
which case was filed first but a greater emphasis on the
relative progress made in the cases, (5) whether state or
federal law controls, and (6) the adequacy of the state forum
to protect the federal plaintiff's rights.
Spectra Communications, 806 F.3d at 1121 (citation
omitted). The parties agree that factors one, two, five and
six are irrelevant to the Court's analysis. The Court thus
turns to consideration of the remaining two factors.
litigation occurs when different tribunals consider the same
issue, thereby duplicating efforts and possibly reaching
different results.” Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v.
Wright Constr. Servs., Inc., 2018 WL 4095186, at *4
(E.D. Mo. Aug. 28, 2018) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). “Because the policies underlying the
Colorado River abstention doctrine are
considerations of wise judicial administration, courts have