The opinion of the court was delivered by: KAUFMAN
Defendant moves for an order (1) staying further proceedings in this case (hereinafter the Federal Action) pending the trial of the issues in an action between the same parties for the same alleged injury now awaiting trial in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Cayuga County (hereinafter the State Action), or (2) transferring the Federal Action to the United States District Court, for the Northern District of New York, pursuant to Section 1404(a) of Title 28 U.S.Code, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice.
The Federal Action was commenced on October 9, 1958 and was brought to recover damages alleged to have been sustained by the plaintiff by reason of the wrongful death of her intestate, which occurred on August 4, 1957, at Cardington, Ohio.
It is the claim of the plaintiff that her intestate's death was caused by the negligence of the defendant in its manufacture of a defective rope, as a result of which the rope broke while plaintiff's intestate was engaged in painting a water tower causing him to fall and sustain the injuries which resulted in his death. The plaintiff alleges in her complaint that the rope was manufactured by the defendant at its plant in Auburn, New York.
The moving papers disclose that the State Action was commenced in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, on August 1, 1958, and subsequently removed to the Supreme Court, Cayuga County, located in the Northern District of New York.
It further appears that the plaintiff is a resident of the state of Pennsylvania and that the defendant has its principal office and place of business at Auburn, New York, and that the only persons who are familiar with relevant facts reside in Fremont, Ohio, and in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York.
The papers inform me further that the trial of the State Action can be heard without delay by the Honorable Arthur E. Blaufelt, Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and a jury, sitting in the Supreme Court of Cayuga County, before a trial can be had in the Federal Action, and, indeed, this point was argued with vigor at the hearing on this motion.
The defendant, therefore, urges that in the interest of time, effort, avoidance of multiplicity of actions, comity between federal and state courts and the orderly administration of justice the proceedings in this action should be stayed until the issues in the prior action now pending in the state court have been determined.
It is quite clear that the district court has power to stay proceedings in a suit pending before it but whether this power should be exercised is addressed to its sound judicial discretion. Landis v. North American Co., 1936, 299 U.S. 248, 57 S. Ct. 163, 81 L. Ed. 153. In Mottolese v. Kaufman, 2 Cir., 1949, 176 F.2d 301, 302, Judge Learned Hand, writing for the majority of the court, stated:
'It is probably true that originally the statutory privilege of access to a federal court was regarded as absolute and indefeasible, no matter whether its exercise resulted in inconvenience, delay and expense to the defendant. There can be no doubt, however, that this is no longer true.'
The power to stay a federal action presenting the same issues as a prior state action has been exercised frequently. See Mottolese v. Kaufman, supra; Butler v. Judge of United States District Court, 9 Cir., 1941, 116 F.2d 1013; Brendel v. Smith, D.C.S.D.N.Y.1942, 46 F.Supp. 522; Maternally Yours v. Your Maternity Shop, Inc., D.C.S.D.N.Y.1950, 89 F.Supp. 167.
Landis v. North American Co., supra, 299 U.S., at pages 254-255, 57 S. Ct. at page 166, recognized this principle:
'The power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. How this can best be done calls for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain an even balance.'
Furthermore, the defendant urges that the facts in the case require a transfer under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) and the allegations in support of the transfer application would seem to warrant the granting of such an order.
The exercise of the court's discretion in granting a stay of a subsequently instituted federal court action in a district distant from the witnesses so that the state court action pending in a district convenient to the defendant and the witnesses may go forward differs little from the power of the court to transfer the entire action to the convenient United States District Court which in this instance would ...