to perform the construction work. Doody hired Harford Construction Company and Sabra Construction Company for this purpose.
Jefferson experienced problems with the resilient flooring installed in the 10 stores involved in this litigation. These stores are located in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in New Jersey. On August 11, 1982, after receiving several complaints about the flooring, Doody filed an action against Jefferson, Harford and Sabra in the Southern District of Ohio where it is located, seeking a declaratory judgment determining the rights and obligations of the parties under its agreements with Jefferson and with the subcontractors. Jefferson filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in the Ohio action on September 3. Harford filed a similar motion on September 27. Neither motion has been decided.
On December 30, 1982, plaintiffs
filed suit in this forum alleging breaches of several contract provisions and negligence in connection with the flooring installation. Defendant has moved this court to dismiss, stay or transfer the action because of its pre-existing Ohio action.
Defendant contends primarily that the first suit filed has priority, absent extraordinary circumstances, and this court must, therefore, dismiss, stay or transfer the instant action. Allowing this second action to continue, defendant maintains, would be duplicative litigation and an abuse of discretion.
Plaintiffs counter with a variety of reasons
why I should retain jurisdiction. I will not address each of these reasons because I find plaintiffs' argument concerning the Ohio court's possible lack of in personam jurisdiction to be dispositive of the issue at this stage of the proceedings.
The Supreme Court has held that a district court has considerable discretion in resolving a conflict of jurisdiction between two federal courts.
Wise judicial administration, giving regard to conservation of judicial resources and comprehensive disposition of litigation, does not counsel rigid mechanical solution of such problems. The factors relevant to wise administration here are equitable in nature. Necessarily, an ample degree of discretion, appropriate for disciplined and experienced judges, must be left to the lower courts.