The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Eileen Sheehan, individually, and as personal
representative of the estate
of her deceased mother, Aileen Sheehan, commenced this action
against her former attorney, Joseph H. Koonz, Jr., for
negligence, legal malpractice, and breach of contract during his
representation of plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit. After
completing some preliminary discovery of defendant Koonz and one
of his law partners, plaintiff sought leave to amend the
complaint to allege counts of fraud, deceit, and
misrepresentation in connection with defendant's representation.
The Court denied plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint without prejudice to refiling the motion after
additional discovery. Plaintiff now claims that subsequent
investigation indicates that defendant Koonz engaged in prior
acts of fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation and that defendant
and some of his law partners allegedly conspired to hide past and
present unethical conduct from plaintiff and the Court.
On June 10, 1999, plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the Superior
Court of the District of Columbia that names defendant and eleven
additional parties, including nine attorneys who were partners in
defendant's law firm at the time he represented plaintiff. The
lawsuit alleges, inter alia, nine counts of fraud, deceit,
misrepresentation, and conspiracy. On June 18, 1999, this Court
issued an Order to Show Cause why this case should not be
dismissed without prejudice in light of the recently filed
lawsuit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Plaintiff responded by stating that the joinder of indispensable
and necessary parties would destroy the diversity that provided
this Court with subject matter jurisdiction. Moreover, plaintiff
also stated that the discovery that has proceeded has been
minimal and that no prejudice to either party would result from
dismissal without prejudice of this case. Defendant opposes a
stay or dismissal on the ground that plaintiff has not
demonstrated the exceptional circumstances required by the
Supreme Court in Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v.
United States, 424 U.S. 800, 96 S.Ct. 1236, 47 L.Ed.2d 483
(1976) [hereinafter Colorado River], and Moses H. Cone Mem'l
Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74
L.Ed.2d 765 (1983) [hereinafter Moses H. Cone]. Defendant's
arguments are not persuasive.
Acting pursuant to its power under Article III of the United
States Constitution, Congress has mandated that federal district
courts shall have original jurisdiction over civil actions where
the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000 and is between citizens
of different states. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). As a general
rule, federal district courts have a "virtually unflagging
obligation . . . to exercise the jurisdiction given them."
Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 817, 96 S.Ct. 1236. The Supreme
Court has emphasized 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." Id. (citations omitted).
Despite the district court's obligation to exercise
jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has, however, articulated five
exceptions where a court can abstain from jurisdiction: first,
"in cases presenting a federal constitutional issue which might
be mooted or presented in a different posture by a state court
determination of pertinent state law," County of Allegheny v.
Frank Mashuda Co., 360 U.S. 185, 189, 79 S.Ct. 1060, 3 L.Ed.2d
1163 (1959); see also Railroad Comm'n of Texas v. Pullman Co.,
312 U.S. 496, 61 S.Ct. 643, 85 L.Ed. 971 (1941); second, in cases
"where there have been presented difficult questions of state law
bearing on policy problems of substantial public import whose
importance transcends the result in the case then at bar,"
Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 814, 96 S.Ct. 1236; see also
Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. City of Thibodaux, 360 U.S. 25,
S.Ct. 1070, 3 L.Ed.2d 1058 (1959); third, in cases whose
resolution could lead to needless interference in complex state
administrative procedures, see Burford v. Sun Oil Co.,
319 U.S. 315, 63 S.Ct. 1098, 87 L.Ed. 1424 (1943); fourth, in cases where
the federal court's resolution would interfere with the pending
state criminal prosecutions, see Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971); and finally, in cases
such as the one at bar, where resolution of a similar action
pending between the parties in state court may effectively
resolve the dispute between the parties. See Colorado River,
424 U.S. 800, 96 S.Ct. 1236, 47 L.Ed.2d 483.
III. Colorado River Abstention
In contrast to the other four types of abstention, Colorado
River abstention is not based upon "considerations of proper
constitutional adjudication and regard for federal-state
relations," but on considerations of "wise judicial
administration, giving regard to conservation of judicial
resources and comprehensive disposition of litigation." Colorado
River, 424 U.S. at 817, 96 S.Ct. 1236 (citations omitted). Given
the district court's obligation to exercise its jurisdiction and
the absence of these weightier considerations, the situations
that are appropriate for dismissal "for reasons of wise judicial
administration are considerably more limited than the
circumstances appropriate for abstention." Id. at 818, 96 S.Ct.
1236. In determining whether a case is appropriate for Colorado
River abstention, the court should not look for substantial
reasons to exercise jurisdiction. Rather, "the task is to
ascertain whether there exist `exceptional' circumstances, the
`clearest of justifications,' that can suffice under Colorado
River to justify the surrender of that jurisdiction." Moses H.
Cone, 460 U.S. at 25-26, 103 S.Ct. 927; see also Hoai v. Sun
Refining & Marketing Co., 866 F.2d 1515, 1518, 1520-21 (D.C.Cir.
1989) (discussing circumstances justifying stay or dismissal of
federal cases because of concurrent state proceedings).
The Supreme Court has articulated six factors that a district
court must consider in deciding whether the circumstances of a
particular case are exceptional: (1) whether one court has first
assumed jurisdiction over property; (2) the inconvenience of the
federal forum; (3) the desirability of avoiding piecemeal
litigation; (4) the order in which jurisdiction was obtained by
the concurrent forums; see Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 818, 96
S.Ct. 1236; (5) the source of the law that will provide the rules
of the decision; and (6) the adequacy of the state court
proceeding to protect the rights of the parties. See Moses H.
Cone, 460 U.S. at 24-26, 103 S.Ct. 927. A district court's
analysis of the above factors should not be mechanical, but
rather the district court should carefully balance the factors
that apply to the given case, "with the balance heavily weighted
in favor of the exercise of jurisdiction." Id. at 16, 103 S.Ct.
927. In addition, "[n]o one factor is necessarily determinative;
a carefully considered judgment taking into account both the
obligation to exercise jurisdiction and the combination of
factors counselling against that exercise is required." Colorado
River, 424 U.S. at 818-19, 96 S.Ct. 1236; see also Reiman v.
Smith, 12 F.3d 222, 224 (D.C.Cir. 1993) (citing Johns v.
Rozet, 770 F. Supp. 11 (D.D.C. 1991) as an example of a case that
properly engaged in balancing the Colorado River factors)).
A. Jurisdiction Over Property and Convenience of the Fora
In applying the Colorado River factors to the facts of this
case, the Court can deal with two of the factors expeditiously.
Because this case does not involve jurisdiction over property,
the first factor does not weigh in favor of or against
abstention. Next, because both the state and federal claims ...