In late 1982 Baltimore allegedly informed Bechtel that Baltimore had closed its business and that Baltimore owed certain second-tier subcontractors amounts totalling over $433,900. The three pending cases were subsequently filed. The lower-tier subcontractors seek certain unpaid contract amounts. Some, if not all, of the defendants in this interpleader are looking directly to Bechtel for their claims. Bechtel contends that it is not liable to any of the defendants. It further claims an interest in the fund for Baltimore's alleged breach of contract. The total amount claimed by the various second-tier subcontractors exceed the fund. Bechtel claims an interest exceeding the amount of the fund.
In its prayer for relief, Bechtel seeks: (1) an order preliminarily enjoining or restraining McFadden, Northern Lehigh and Henkels from prosecuting the three pending cases; (2) an order transferring the cases to a single judge as related matters and consolidating them with this interpleader matter, or staying them pending disposition of the interpleader action; (3) an order preliminarily enjoining and restraining each of the defendants during the pendency of this action from instituting any action of any kind whatsoever against Bechtel, "in respect of or affecting recovery of part or all of the amounts in the Fund or any other amounts claimed owing to Baltimore under the Subcontract Agreement"; (4) entry of judgment in favor of Bechtel and against Baltimore and such other defendants as the court deems appropriate, on Bechtel's contractual, legal, and equitable claims; (5) entry of judgment in favor of Bechtel and against such defendants as assert any claims against Bechtel relating to work performed on the Limerick Project; (6) determination of the interest, if any, of each claimant and defendant in the fund and direction of payment of any such amount; and (7) the award of reasonable counsel fees, interest, and costs. (Complaint.) Bechtel has moved for a stay of related cases, or in the alternative, for their consolidation.
Defendant Northern Lehigh has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in interpleader and a motion in opposition to Bechtel's motion for stay and consolidation. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company ("USF & G"), not a party to this action but claiming to have interests that would be affected by the motion to stay or consolidated the other cases, is a defendant in James E. McFadden, Inc. v. Baltimore Contractors, Inc., et al., 609 F. Supp. 1102. USF & G, in an amicus memorandum, opposes the motion to stay or consolidate that case with the interpleader action. It takes no position on the propriety of the use of interpleader since it is not a party to the interpleader action.
It is Northern Lehigh's position that Bechtel's complaint is fatally defective because Bechtel failed to either deposit the fund with the court or post a bond in the amount of the fund. However, the docket sheet reflects that on November 23, 1983 a bond in the amount of $250,000 was posted by The American Insurance Company on behalf of Bechtel. A court order filed that same date approved the bond. Therefore, assuming such posting to be a jurisdictional prerequisite, it has been fulfilled.
Northern Lehigh further argues that interpleader is substantively not available to Bechtel. The interpleader statute provides:
§ 1335. Interpleader (a) The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action of interpleader or in the nature of interpleader filed by any person, firm, or corporation, association, or society having in his or its custody or possession money or property of the value of $500 or more, or having issued a note, bond, certificate, policy of insurance, or other instrument of value or amount of $500 or more, or providing for the delivery or payment or the loan of money or property of such amount or value, or being under any obligation written or unwritten to the amount of $500 or more, if