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Lehmann v. Kennedy

May 21, 1979

ALBERT F. LEHMANN, DOING BUSINESS AS A.F. LEHMANN CONSTRUCTION, AND AFLCO AIRLEASE, INC., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
JOHN H. KENNEDY, ROGER W. TUBBY, ORIN LEHMAN, D. P. MCLOUGHLIN, PETER F. RAIN, THE NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF PARKS AND RECREATION, JOHN DOE AND RICHARD ROE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Present: HONORABLE IRVING R. KAUFMAN, Chief Judge. HONORABLE J. JOSEPH SMITH, HONORABLE WILLIAM H. TIMBERS, Circuit Judges.

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of record from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and was argued by counsel.

ON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, it is now hereby ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the judgment of said District Court be and it hereby is vacated. The District Court should have abstained from deciding a question of state law -- interpretation of the term "site" as used in the contract -- on which the plaintiffs' federal rights might depend. See, e.g., Harris County Commissioners' Court v. Moore, 420 U.S. 77, 83-84 (1974); Lake Carriers' Ass'n v. MacMullan, 406 U.S. 498, 512 (1972). Appellants state their intention of pursuing a remedy in the New York Court of Claims. Interpretation of an agreement between a contractor and the state is a question "peculiarly within the province of the local courts," Harris County Commissioners' Court, supra, 420 U.S. at 83-84, and the action in the state court "will likely resolve the state law questions underlying the federal claim." Id. at 84. The District Court shall retain jurisdiction "pending the determination of the state-law questions in state court." Harris County Commissioners' Court, supra, 420 U.S. at 88 n. 14; see Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 244 n. 4

19790521

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