Legal Memorandum: Declaratory Judgment Procedures in VT

Issue: In Vermont court, what are the declaratory judgment procedures?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Declaratory judgment; Procedures
Jurisdiction: Federal, Vermont
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 28 U.S.C. § 2201; Fed. R. Civ. P. 57; Rules 38 and 39
Date: 03/01/2006

The federal district courts are authorized to hear declaratory judgment cases by 28 U.S.C. § 2201.  That statute provides in part, that any federal court, “upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not other relief is or could be sought.”  Declaratory judgments have the force and effect of any other final judgment and are subject to the same rights of appeal.  Id.

            The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are made expressly applicable to declaratory judgment actions by Fed. R. Civ. P. 57.  That Rule provides that the parties to a declaratory judgment action are entitled to employ all procedures of ordinary civil actions, expressly including the rights to jury trial as provided by Rules 38 and 39.  In addition, the court is given the authority to order a declaratory judgment action advanced on the calendar.  Rule 57.

The Second Circuit seems to be more receptive than many courts of appeals to a declaratory judgment action brought by an insurer to resolve insurance coverage matters, even when there is already an ongoing state court action on the underlying claims.  See Continental Cas. Co. v. Coastal Sav. Bank, 977 F.2d 734, 737 (2d Cir. 1992). The court has stated that a declaratory judgment must be heard by the federal district court if the judgment will serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue or it will eliminate […]

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