Delaware’s courts continue to struggle with the problem of how to control multiple suits in multiple jurisdictions, over the same basic dispute. Just recently, the Delaware Supreme Court explained how the lower courts should deal with this problem, in its decision in The North River Insurance v. Mine Safety Appliances, 2014 Del. LEXIS 527 (Del. Nov. 6, 2014). The Supreme Court’s careful analysis is worth reviewing.
North River involved some all-too-common facts. The North River Insurance Co. issued several insurance policies to Mine Safety Appliances Co., a manufacturer of safety products. When Mine Safety faced thousands of personal injury claims and North River denied coverage under its insurance policies, the inevitable litigation followed. First, Mine Safety sued for coverage in both federal and state courts in Pennsylvania in 2009-10. Apparently not content with just two suits to resolve the coverage issue, Mine Safety later filed suit against North River and other insurers in Delaware. When that action was stayed in favor of the prior Pennsylvania actions, Mine Safety turned to West Virginia where it was already a defendant in various personal injury actions. That is when things got really complicated.
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