Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 18 (1996)

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

Opinion of the Court

tional considerations behind dismissal for forum non conveniens differ markedly from those informing the decision to abstain. Compare American Dredging, supra, at 448-449 (describing "multifarious factors," including both public and private interests, which might allow a district court to dismiss a case under doctrine of forum non conveniens), with Burford, 319 U. S., at 332-333 (describing "federal-state conflict" that requires a federal court to yield jurisdiction in favor of a state forum). Federal courts abstain out of deference to the paramount interests of another sovereign, and the concern is with principles of comity and federalism. See, e. g., ibid.; Younger, 401 U. S., at 44-45. Dismissal for forum non conveniens, by contrast, has historically reflected a far broader range of considerations, see Piper, supra, at 241, 257-262 (describing the interests which bear on forum non conveniens decision); Gulf Oil, supra, at 508-509 (same), most notably the convenience to the parties and the practical difficulties that can attend the adjudication of a dispute in a certain locality, see Piper, supra, at 257-259 (evidentiary problems, unavailability of witnesses, difficulty of coordinating multiple suits); Gulf Oil, supra, at 511 (availability of witnesses, need to interplead Virginia corporation, location of evidence).


With these background principles in mind, we consider the contours of the Burford doctrine. The principal issue presented in Burford was the "reasonableness" of an order issued by the Texas Railroad Commission, which granted "a permit to drill four oil wells on a small plot of land in the East Texas oil field." 319 U. S., at 317. Due to the potentially overlapping claims of the many parties who might have an interest in a common pool of oil and the need for uniform regulation of the oil industry, Texas endowed the Railroad Commission with exclusive regulatory authority in the area. Texas also placed the authority to review the Commission's


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