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Abatement, Multiple Lawsuits

Because of procedural rules and/or general litigation strategy, more than one lawsuit is sometimes filed in a different court. In certain circumstances, “abatement” limits subsequent or separate lawsuits.

Under abatement (a/k/a “pending action doctrine”), when a claim involves the same subject matter and parties as a previously filed suit so that the facts and issues presented are the same, resolution should occur through the first suit and the second suit should be dismissed. Estate of Holtmeyer v. Piontek, 913 S.W.2d 352, 357 (Mo. Ct. App. 1996). Put differently, the court in which the claim is first filed acquires exclusive jurisdiction over the matter. It is properly applied where the second suit/cause of action is identical to the first suit filed.

Unlike on typical motions to dismiss in Missouri, the court may look beyond a plaintiff’s lawsuit in determining whether abatement should apply and may view a movant’s motion and supporting evidence. Id.

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