406 F.Supp. 713 (D.Mass. 1975), Civ. A. 68-141, United States v. Gillette Co.
|Docket Nº:||Civ. A. 68-141|
|Citation:||406 F.Supp. 713|
|Party Name:||United States v. Gillette Co.|
|Case Date:||December 30, 1975|
|Court:||United States District Courts, 1st Circuit, District of Massachusetts|
Julie Murray, David Goldsweig, Antitrust Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.
G. Marshall Moriarty, Edward Hanify, Ropes & Gray, Boston, Mass., for Gillette Co.
Peter B. Ellis, Foley, Hoag & Eliot, Boston, Mass., for Sperry Rand Co.
Alexander W. Sierck of Sierck, Wald, Harkrader & Ross, Washington, D.C., for Ronson Co.
ALDRICH, Senior Circuit Judge.
The matter of a proposed consent decree in the government-initiated civil antitrust suit, heard preliminarily on October 10 in response to a motion filed
October 7, 1975, is again before the court. As a result of the opinion of October 14 and later, more explicit, court suggestions, as well as further hearings and extensive memoranda and affidavits filed by opposers and conferences between counsel, including counsel for opposers, the parties have modified the stipulated decree in a number of particulars. 1 The question now is whether approval of this decree in its present form would be in the public interest. 15 U.S.C. §§ 16(b)-(h).
The extent of the burden that this new statute, the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, hereinafter sometimes the act, places upon the court was adverted to in the October 14 opinion, of which this is a continuation.
This seems neither improper nor unwise. Fear has been expressed that the act's 'elaborate procedure . . . will prove counterproductive and may, indeed, undermine (by placing too great obstacles on the consent process) effective enforcement of our antitrust laws.' Handler, Antitrust-- Myth & Reality in an Inflationary Era, 50 N.Y.U.L.Rev. 211, 243 (1975). Courts' involvement in preventing potential harm to competition can become excessive. Cf. Emhart Corp. v. USM Corp., 1 Cir. 1975, 527 F.2d 177. I agree that in terms of the important role of the consent decree in antitrust procedure, too much tillage can destroy the garden.
Nor do I think Congress had, in fact, any contrary intention. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported that a high percentage of government antitrust actions are settled prior to trial, and recognized that the consent decree process was a 'legitimate and integral part of antitrust enforcement.' S. Rep., ante, at 3, 5. 'Obviously, the consent decree is of crucial importance as an enforcement tool, since it permits the allocation of resources elsewhere.' S. Rep. at 5. '(T)he Committee wishes to retain the consent judgment as a substantial antitrust enforcement tool.' S. Rep. at 7. 'The court is nowhere compelled to go to trial or to engage in extended proceedings which might have the effect of vitiating the benefits of prompt and less costly settlement through the consent decree process.' 119 Cong.Rec. 24598 (1973).
I believe that the examination which has been offered the court has more than met the requirements of the act, and that there is ample to permit a considered decision. The record is both open and extensive, including notations of my own observations. While in some cases I would feel called upon to make a number of subsidiary findings to support conclusions, in this instance it is largely
unnecessary. I comment, accordingly, only briefly.
With regard to the government's good faith, I have not the slightest reason to suspect otherwise. Nor has there been any contrary suggestion as a result of the proceedings...
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