Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 22 (1996)

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

Opinion of the Court

the case then at bar,' " or if its adjudication in a federal forum " 'would be disruptive of state efforts to establish a coherent policy with respect to a matter of substantial public concern.' " 491 U. S., at 361 (quoting Colorado River, supra, at 814).

We ultimately held that Burford did not provide proper grounds for an abstention-based dismissal in NOPSI because the "case [did] not involve a state-law claim, nor even an assertion that the federal claims [were] 'in any way entangled in a skein of state law that must be untangled before the federal case can proceed,' " 491 U. S., at 361 (quoting McNeese v. Board of Ed. for Community Unit School Dist. 187, 373 U. S. 668, 674 (1963)), and because there was no serious threat of conflict between the adjudication of the federal claim presented in the case and the State's interest in ensuring uniformity in ratemaking decisions:

"While Burford is concerned with protecting complex state administrative processes from undue federal influence, it does not require abstention whenever there exists such a process, or even in all cases where there is a 'potential for conflict' with state regulatory law or policy. Here, NOPSI's primary claim is that the Council is prohibited by federal law from refusing to provide reimbursement for FERC-allocated wholesale costs. Unlike a claim that a state agency has misapplied its lawful authority or has failed to take into consideration or properly weigh relevant state-law factors, federal adjudication of this sort of pre-emption claim would not disrupt the State's attempt to ensure uniformity in the treatment of an 'essentially local problem.' " 491 U. S., at 362 (quoting Alabama Pub. Serv. Comm'n, supra, at 347) (citations omitted).

These cases do not provide a formulaic test for determining when dismissal under Burford is appropriate, but they do demonstrate that the power to dismiss under the Burford


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