Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., No. 06 C 5812, 2007 WL 1169704 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 17, 2007) (Norgle, J.).

Judge Norgle denied defendants’ motion to stay based upon Colorado River abstention, which the Court noted was more properly referred to as Colorado River deference since it is not strictly abstention.  This case had a tortured procedural history: 

  • Plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance ("MetLife") initially filed an action against corporate defendant Guardian Life Insurance ("Guardian") and certain former MetLife employees that had taken positions with Guardian based upon claims that the former employees had breached covenants in their employment agreements and stolen certain MetLife information to start a competing office for Guardian.  The state court dismissed those claims, but on appeal the the Illinois appellate court held that MetLife had voluntarily dismissed the claims. 
  • MetLife also brought a related arbitration claim against Guardian and various former MetLife employees before the National Association of Security Dealers (the "NASD").  That action is still pending, but Guardian is no longer a party. 
  • MetLife also sued Guardian and defendant O’M Associates (the "corporate defendants") and various former MetLife employees twice in the Northern District.  The first case was dismissed based upon a common arbitration provision in MetLife’s employment agreement.
  • The second case, which is the instant case, was brought only against the corporate defendants.

Defendants motion to stay argued that the Court should stay the case based upon the related, co-pending state court matter.  But the Court held that Colorado River deference was not applicable because the Illinois Supreme Court had already denied Guardian’s petition for leave to appeal which was a final resolution of the state court case.