600 F.2d 1148 (5th Cir. 1979), 78-1817, In re Beef Industry Antitrust Litigation

Docket Nº:78-1817 78-1829.
Citation:600 F.2d 1148
Party Name:In re BEEF INDUSTRY ANTITRUST LITIGATION, MDL DOCKET NO. 248. PONY CREEK CATTLE CO., INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, Musselman Ranch Co., etc., et al., Plaintiffs-Intervenors-Appellants, v. The GREAT ATLANTIC & PACIFIC TEA CO. et al., Defendants-Appellees. R. Dirk AGEE et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-
Case Date:August 17, 1979
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 1148

600 F.2d 1148 (5th Cir. 1979)

In re BEEF INDUSTRY ANTITRUST LITIGATION, MDL DOCKET NO. 248.

PONY CREEK CATTLE CO., INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

Musselman Ranch Co., etc., et al., Plaintiffs-Intervenors-Appellants,

v.

The GREAT ATLANTIC & PACIFIC TEA CO. et al., Defendants-Appellees.

R. Dirk AGEE et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

MEAT PRICE INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION, etc., et al.,

Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Richard S. LOWE et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

A. L. BLACK et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

ALBERTSON'S, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees (two cases).

CHAPARRAL CATTLE CORP., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Burke PETERSEN et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Ronald BECKER et al., on behalf of themselves and all other

persons similarlysituated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

John O. VARIAN et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

MEAT PRICE INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

LITTLE RANCH CO., INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FOOD CHAINS, etc., et al.,

Defendants-Appellees.

Ronald BECKER et al., on behalf of themselves and all other

persons similarlysituated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

SAFEWAY STORES, INC., etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 78-1817 78-1829.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 17, 1979

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Ben L. Krage, Kasmir, Willingham & Krage, Dallas, Tex., for Pony creek, et al.

Lowell V. Summerhays, Robinson, Guyon, Summerhays & Barnes, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Varian, et al., Chaparral Cattle Corp., et al. and Petersen, et al.

Robert R. Eidsmoe, Gleysteen, Harper, Kunze, Eidsmoe & Heidman, Sioux City, Iowa, Burt A. Braverman, Frances Chetwynd, Washington, D. C., for Lowe, et al.

Lex Hawkins, Glenn L. Norris, Hawkins & Norris, Des Moines, Iowa, John A. Cochrane, Cochrane & Bresnahan, St. Paul, Minn., for Meat Price Investigators Ass'n, et al. and Becker, et al.

James W. Witherspoon, Donald L. Davis, Witherspoon, Aikin & Langley, Hereford, Tex., for Black, et al.

Joseph M. Alioto, Steven J. Cannata, Law Offices of Joseph L. Alioto, San Francisco, Cal., for Little Ranch Co.

W. Randolph Elliott, Baker, Glast, Riddle, Tuttle & Elliott, Dallas, Tex., for intervenors Powell Cattle Co., et al.

Jess B. Hawley, Jr., Hawley, Troxell, Ennis & Hawley, Boise, Idaho, for Albertson's, Inc., Skaggs-Albertson's.

Sheldon S. Toll, Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn, Detroit, Mich., for Allied Supermarkets, Inc.

Benjamin M. Quigg, Jr., Stephen W. Armstrong, James J. Rodgers, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, Pa., H. Dudley Chambers, Jackson, Walker, Winstead, Cantwell & Miller, Dallas, Tex., for American Stores Co. f/k/a Acme Markets, Inc.

Roy Lewis Shults, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, Los Angeles, Cal., for Arden-Mayfair, Inc.

Sylvan Rapaport, c/o Borman's, Inc., Detroit, Mich., for Borman's, Inc.

George B. Haley, Jr., Kilpatrick, Cody, Rogers, McClatchey & Regenstein, Atlanta, Ga., Robert W. Coleman, Stalcup, Johnson, Meyers & Miller, Dallas, Tex., for Colonial Stores, Inc.

John D. Leech, Calfee, Halter & Griswold, Cleveland, Ohio, for First Nat. Stores, Inc.

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David A. Rosen, Stein, Rosen & Ohrenstein, New York City, for Food Fair Stores, Inc.

H. Kenneth Kudon, Danzansky, Dickey, Tydings, Quint & Gordon, Washington, D. C., for Giant Food, Inc.

Kenneth A. Plevan, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York City, for The Grand Union Co.

Wilson W. Herndon, Strasburger & Price, Dallas, Tex., for Liaison Counsel.

Denis McInerney, Thomas F. Curnin, Cahill, Gordon & Reindel, New York City, for The Great Atlantic & Pac. Tea Co., Inc.

Theodore A. Groenke, Walter M. Jones, McDermott, Will & Emery, Chicago, Ill., for Jewel Companies, Inc.

Alexander E. Bennett, Norman Diamond, Washington, D. C., Wilson W. Herndon, Strasburger & Price, Dallas, Tex., for The Kroger Co.

Arnold M. Lerman, C. Loring Jetton, Jr., Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, Washington, D. C., Jerry L. Buchmeyer, Thompson, Knight, Simmons & Bullion, Dallas, Tex., for Lucky Stores, Inc.

James F. Rill, Martin A. Rosen, Collier, Shannon, Rill, Edwards & Scott, Washington, D. C., John L. Hauer, Richard C. Levin, Akin, Gump, Hauer & Feld, Dallas, Tex., for The Nat. Ass'n of Food Chains.

Jeffrey S. Davidson, Fred H. Bartlett, Jr., Daniel Edelman, Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago, Ill., for Nat. Provisioner, Inc.

Franklin P. Auwarter, Kenneth J. Jurek, Mayer, Brown & Platt, Chicago, Ill., for National Tea Co.

Peter D. Standish, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York City, for Pueblo Intern., Inc.

Les J. Weinstein, Aaron M. Peck, McKenna & Fitting, Los Angeles, Cal., for Ralph's Grocery Co.

Richard W. Odgers, John B. Bates, Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, San Francisco, Cal., W. B. West, III, William F. Carroll, Clark, West, Keller, Sanders & Butler, Dallas, Tex., for Safeway Stores, Inc.

Michael R. Murphy, Donald B. Holbrook, Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Skaggs Companies, Inc., Skaggs-Albertson's.

Robert D. Paul, Goodwin, Proctor & Hoar, Boston, Mass., Stanley E. Neely, Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely, Dallas, Tex., for The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc.

Geoffrey M. Kalmus, Nickerson, Kramer, Lowenstein, Nessen, Kamin & Soll, New York City, T. L. Caudle, III, Coke & Coke, Dallas, Tex., for Supermarkets General Corp.

Michael E. Bress, Dorsey, Windhorst, Hannaford, Whitney, Halladay, Minneapolis, Minn., for Super Valu Stores, Inc.

Timothy J. Sargent, Bodkin, McCarthy, Sargent & Smith, Los Angeles, Cal., for Thriftmart, Inc.

Ronald L. Olson, Munger, Tolles & Ricker-Hauser, Los Angeles, Cal., for Vons Grocery Co.

Chester Bedell, John A. DeVault, III, Charles P. Pillans, Bedell, Bedell, Dittmar & Zehmer, Jacksonville, Fla., Charles P. Storey, John K. DeLay Jr., Storey, Armstrong, Steger & Martin, Dallas, Tex., for Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before WISDOM, HILL, and FAY, Circuit Judges.

WISDOM, Circuit Judge:

These consolidated appeals involve the applicability of Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, 1977, 431 U.S. 720, 97 S.Ct. 2061, 52 L.Ed.2d 707, to sales by primary producers to middlemen at prices allegedly depressed by price-fixing at the retail level of distribution. The appeals also present other difficult questions concerning federal antitrust laws.

These appeals arise from thirteen private antitrust actions alleging that the concerted activities of the defendants violate the provisions of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust

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Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 2. The complaints ask for treble damages and for injunctive relief under §§ 4 and 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 15 and 26. The plaintiffs are cattlemen, ranchers, and feeders. The defendants are twenty-five retail food chains, a wholesale grocer, the retail chains' national trade association, and a beef industry price reporting publication. 1 The plaintiffs in the various suits charge that the retail chains combined, primarily by using the trade association and the price reporting publication, to fix at artificially low levels the prices at which beef is purchased from slaughterhouses and meat packers, and ultimately from the producers cattle ranchers and feeders. The resulting depression in wholesale prices to retailers, passed up the chain of distribution, reduced the prices which the plaintiffs received in selling their cattle to the packers and slaughterhouses.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation assigned the cases to the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. In re Beef Industry Antitrust Litigation, 419 F.Supp. 720 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit., 1976). In June 1977 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Illinois Brick, holding that a purchaser could not maintain an antitrust damage action against a seller remote from him in the chain of distribution; rejecting, with narrow exceptions, the offensive use of "passing-on". 2 Shortly thereafter the defendants moved for dismissal of the complaints on the ground that the plaintiffs' theory of damages (sellers suing remote purchasers) was a "pass-on" theory indistinguishable in all important respects from the theory of damages (purchasers suing remote sellers) at issue in Illinois Brick. The district court agreed with the defendants and dismissed the complaints with prejudice for failure to state claims upon which relief could be granted. The court did not file an opinion, but stated from the bench that the dismissal was based on Illinois Brick.

The main issue is whether the complaints should have been dismissed on the strength of Illinois Brick. The plaintiffs/appellants also urge that the district court erred in striking from the complaints allegations of retail price-fixing. The plaintiffs in Pony Creek Cattle Co., Inc., et al. v. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., et al. appeal partial summary judgments granted against them on their allegation that the statute of limitations was tolled because the defendants fraudulently concealed the alleged conspiracy. We agree with the defendants-appellees that the claims for damages, as pleaded, are within the ambit of the rule of Illinois Brick. Nevertheless we...

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