New Jersey Appellate Division Finds That a Demand for Arbitration or Mediation Constitutes the “First-filed” Action for Comity Purposes

In CTC Demolition Company, Inc. v. GMH AETC Management / Development, LLC, et al., the Appellate Division recently found in a to-be published opinion that a party’s demand for contractually-mandated arbitration or mediation may constitute the “first filed” action for purposes of a comity analysis. The “first filed rule” typically surfaces where parties have engaged in a “race to the courthouse,” filing similar lawsuits in different jurisdictions that they perceive to be most friendly to their cause. Based on traditional principles of comity, the rule provides that “a New Jersey court should not interfere with a similar, earlier-filed case in another jurisdiction that is capable of affording adequate relief and doing complete justice,” Sensient Colors, Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co., but allows for certain exceptions, such as where “the presence of special equities may lead a court to disregard the traditional deference paid to the first-filed action.”