Colorado River abstention 101

Overlapping state and federal cases about the rights to settlement proceeds led the district court to abstain under the Colorado River doctrine in Saucier v. Aviva Life & Annuity Co., No. 11-60503 (Nov. 16, 2012).  The Fifth Circuit reversed, finding no “exceptional circumstances” warranting abstention.  In reviewing each of the relevant factors, the Court distinguished “duplicative litigation” — which does not warrant absention — from “piecemeal” litigation in which a state court case has more relevant parties than a federal one.  Id. at 7-8.  The Court also reminded that “how much progress has been made” is more important in comparing the status of parallel cases than their respective filing dates.  Id. at 8.

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