Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 8 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 706 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

pending the completion of a declaratory judgment action that had been filed in state court. The Court of Appeals held that this stay order was appealable under 1291, and we affirmed that determination on two independent grounds.

We first concluded that the abstention-based stay order was appealable as a "final decision" under 1291 because it put the litigants " 'effectively out of court,' " 460 U. S., at 11, n. 11 (quoting Idlewild Bon Voyage Liquor Corp. v. Epstein, 370 U. S. 713, 715, n. 2 (1962) (per curiam)), and because its effect was "precisely to surrender jurisdiction of a federal suit to a state court," 460 U. S., at 11, n. 11. These standards do not reflect our oft-repeated definition of finality, see supra, at 712 (citing Catlin, supra, at 233); see, e. g., Digital, supra, at 867 (citing the Catlin definition); Lauro Lines s.r.l. v. Chasser, 490 U. S. 495, 497 (1989) (same); Van Cauwenberghe v. Biard, 486 U. S. 517, 521-522 (1988) (same), but in Moses H. Cone we found their application to be compelled by precedent, see 460 U. S., at 11, n. 11 ("Idlewild's reasoning is limited to cases where (under Colorado River, abstention, or a closely similar doctrine) the object of the stay is to require all or an essential part of the federal suit to be litigated in a state forum").

As an alternative to this reliance on Idlewild, we also held that the stay order at issue in Moses H. Cone was appealable under the collateral order doctrine. 460 U. S., at 11. We determined that a stay order based on the Colorado River doctrine "presents an important issue separate from the merits" because it "amounts to a refusal to adjudicate" the case in federal court; that such orders could not be reviewed on appeal from a final judgment in the federal action because the district court would be bound, as a matter of res judicata, to honor the state court's judgment; and that unlike other stay orders, which might readily be reconsidered by the district court, abstention-based stay orders of this ilk are "conclusive" because they are the practical equivalent of an order dismissing the case. 460 U. S., at 12.


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