United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Bissoon, United States District Judge.
Motion to Remand (Doc. 11) currently is pending before the
Court. For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies
April 9, 2018, Defendant Westfield Insurance Company, Inc.
(“Westfield”) noticed the removal
(“Notice”) of this action from the Allegheny
County Court of Common Pleas. Doc. 1. With the exception of
Defendant Brayman, complete diversity exists in this action.
Id., at ¶¶ 4-5. Westfield alleges in its
Notice, however, that Plaintiff joined Brayman to this action
for the purpose of destroying diversity; thus, the Court must
ignore Brayman's citizenship for diversity purposes.
Id., at ¶ 15. Plaintiff has not countered this
Plaintiff moves to remand on the basis that the Court should
exercise its discretion to do so. The Declaratory Judgment
Act (“DJA”) “does not mandate that federal
district courts exercise jurisdiction over every declaratory
judgment action.” Chapman v. Lexington Ins.
Co., No. 2:16CV455, 2016 WL 6885901, *1 (W.D. Pa. June
17, 2016); see State Auto. Ins. Companies v. Summy,
234 F.3d 131, 133 (3d Cir. 2000). Rather, the DJA explicitly
provides that “any court of the United States, under
appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and
other legal relations of any interested party seeking such
declaration…” 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) (emphasis
added). But when an action involves both a claim for
declaratory and legal relief, which are independent
from each other, the Court has a ‘“virtually
unflagging obligation' to hear those claims, subject of
course to Colorado River's exceptional
circumstances.” Rarick v. Federated Serv. Ins.
Co., 852 F.3d 223, 229 (3d Cir. 2017).
predicate matter, Plaintiff pleaded a claim for both legal
and declaratory relief. Like Rarick, in addition to
a claim for declaratory judgment, Plaintiff included a claim
for legal relief, breach of contract, in its Complaint.
Rarick, 852 F.3d at 229; See Compl., at
Count II. Because Plaintiff's breach of contract
claim satisfies diversity jurisdiction, it is independent
from Plaintiff's declaratory relief claim. Id.
breach of contract claim's independence from the
declaratory relief claim obligates the Court to retain
jurisdiction unless the Colorado River factors
dictate otherwise. The factors that the Court must consider
are 1) whether the state court assumed in rem
jurisdiction over property; (2) the inconvenience of the
federal forum; (3) the desirability of avoiding piecemeal
litigation; and (4) the order in which jurisdiction was
obtained by the concurrent forums. Colo. River Water
Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 818
only Colorado River factor arguably at issue is the
desirability of avoiding piecemeal litigation. Plaintiff,
however, has not argued that a parallel state proceeding
currently is being litigated in state court. Instead,
Plaintiff argues that this matter presents a novel, unsettled
state law issue. Brief in Support of Motion to Remand
(“Motion to Remand”), Doc. 15, at 4.
state law issues can, “in some rare circumstances . . .
weigh in favor of the federal court's surrender of
jurisdiction, ” the state law issues presented here do
not warrant the Court's surrender of jurisdiction.
Ryan v. Johnson, 115 F.3d 193, 199 (3d Cir. 1997).
Simply, contrary to Plaintiff's contention, the Court is
not persuaded that the applicable case law is in flux
regarding what constitutes an “Occurrence” under
a general liability policy. Motion to Remand, at 4.
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 11)
 Plaintiff's Complaint references
an arbitration in which Brayman initiated suit against
Plaintiff for allegedly supplying defective concrete. Compl.,
at ¶ 7-11. The alleged state proceeding, however,
involves contractual liability, whereas this federal action
addresses insurance coverage and whether Westfield owes a
duty to defend and indemnify.
 The Court notes that, upon closer
review, the law on what constitutes an
“occurrence” is not ambiguous. Compare
Kvaerner Metals Div. of Kvaerner U.S., Inc. v. Commercial
Union Ins. Co., 589 Pa. 317, 333, 908 A.2d 888, 898
(2006) (holding that a claim of faulty workmanship does not
fit the definition of accident, which is necessary to
establish an “occurrence”), with Indalex Inc.
v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., 83 A.3d 418, 424 (Pa.
Super. Ct. 2013) (distinguishing Kvaerner because
the rule ...