A federal district judge has agreed with a magistrate judge’s recommendation to deny a motion to abstain where an earlier-filed reinsurance coverage lawsuit was pending in Connecticut state court. In May 2009, the defendant filed suit in state court, contending there was no coverage under two reinsurance agreements for losses the plaintiffs incurred regarding asbestos-related claims. Five months later, the plaintiffs filed suit in federal court, seeking monetary relief for the defendant’s alleged breaches of contract, and for a declaration of the parties’ rights and obligations. The federal suit concerned the same two reinsurance contracts at issue in the state suit, but also involved claims under eleven additional contracts between the parties.
The defendant asked the federal court to defer to the first-filed state suit, which itself had been stayed on the state court’s finding that the federal suit would be the better vehicle to resolve the disputes. The magistrate judge recommended against abstention. The parties submitted briefing on the defendant’s objections to the recommendation, including objections, opposition to the objections and a reply in support of the objections. In adopting the magistrate judge’s recommendations, the district judge noted that, while the same parties and two of the same contracts were involved in the state suit, the claims were more comprehensive in the federal court because of the additional contracts at issue, and because the damages claims were absent from the state suit. Seaton Insurance Co. v. Clearwater Insurance Co., No. 09-516 S (USDC D. Conn. Sept. 2, 2010).