Defendant McDowell has moved to stay or dismiss this declaratory judgment action because it is duplicative of an action filed by McDowell against Prudential in the state court. In order to prevent duplicative litigation and the circumvention of the removal requirements, we conclude that this action must be dismissed.
On April 18, 1983, McDowell filed suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County against Prudential, seeking recovery on a policy of insurance. No removal petition was filed in the state action. On June 1, 1983, Prudential filed the instant suit seeking a declaratory judgment on the terms of the same insurance policy which is the subject of the state action. McDowell then filed this motion to stay or dismiss, arguing that the federal suit is duplicative of the previously filed state action.
Both this action and the state suit concern the liability of the insurer Prudential on its policy issued to McDowell. Prudential does not dispute McDowell's assertion that the suits are in essence identical. There is no issue in the federal action which could not be raised in answer to the state complaint. Essentially then Prudential asks us to entertain a duplicative action.
We recognize that "the pendency of an action in the state court is no bar to proceedings concerning the same matter in the federal court having jurisdiction." McClellan v. Carland, 217 U.S. 268, 282, 54 L. Ed. 762, 30 S. Ct. 501 (1910). Nor are we under any compulsion to exercise such jurisdiction. Brillhart v. Excess Insurance Co., 316 U.S. 491, 494, 86 L. Ed. 1620, 62 S. Ct. 1173 (1942). Wide discretion is given the district court in deciding whether it shall entertain a duplicative action. Will v. Calvert Fire Insurance Co., 437 U.S. 655, 57 L. Ed. 2d 504, 98 S. Ct. 2552 (1978).
We are particularly mindful of the words of the Supreme Court in Brillhart:
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. Gratuitous interference with the orderly and comprehensive disposition of a state court litigation should be avoided. 316 U.S. at 495; quoted in Will v. Calvert, 437 U.S. at 663-4.