CategoriesCivil ProcedureFederal Courts
Pretend that Party A sues Party B in Court 1. Instead of countersuing, however, B then sues A in Court 2. The problem this Note examines is whether Court 1 may enjoin B from continuing to litigate in Court 2 if Court 2 has already declined to stay the case or transfer it to Court 1.
This question has sharply divided the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. How the issue is resolved will have serious consequences for high-stakes litigation in the United States. If one district court may overrule a court of coordinate rank, strategically sophisticated parties might file suits in multiple courts to coerce poorer adversaries into settlement. On the other hand, if a federal district court cannot enjoin litigation which is simultaneously proceeding before a peer, the litigation might continue in both districts. Forcing a poorer adversary to litigate one case in two places at the same time could be a dream come true for a wealthy litigant willing to partake in such strategic gamesmanship to bully poorer adversaries into settling their claims.
This Note proposes issue preclusion as a solution to this problem. Granting preclusive effect to the first decision of either court to address venue would not only prevent parties from being able to relitigate venue across districts but would also eliminate the incentive to file duplicative litigation in the first place.