The North River Insurance Company v. Mine Safety Appliances Company, C.A. No. 8456-VCG (Del. Ch. Dec. 20, 2013).

Issue Addressed:  Whether the court should exercise its equitable jurisdiction to enjoin litigants before it from litigating in other jurisdictions for purposes of equity and efficiency.

Brief Overview:

This case involved what the Court described as “an unusual request.”  An insurer that had issued policies to a safety appliance company for liability coverage faced a multitude of personal injury claims due to alleged defects in safety equipment and the company was seeking coverage under the policy.  The insurer and insured have been litigating in various courts regarding these policies.

In sum, the Court determined that it lacked jurisdiction over the tort plaintiffs in pending West Virginia actions who had a right to litigate the coverage issues in their declaratory judgment actions against North River.  The Court concluded that North River was asking for a remedy that would not achieve its desired result and because “equity will not do a useless thing.”  The Court found that the relief requested would not prevent the irreparable harm alleged and therefore denied the requested injunction.