676 F.2d 332 (8th Cir. 1982), 81-2123, Fusco v. Xerox Corp.

Docket Nº:81-2123.
Citation:676 F.2d 332
Party Name:Charlotte FUSCO and Daniel Boe, Appellants, v. XEROX CORPORATION, Appellee.
Case Date:April 28, 1982
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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676 F.2d 332 (8th Cir. 1982)

Charlotte FUSCO and Daniel Boe, Appellants,



No. 81-2123.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 28, 1982

Rehearing Denied May 25, 1982.

Submitted March 12, 1982.

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Betsy G. Berger, Lincoln, Neb., for appellants.

Gerald P. Laughlin, Craig W. Thompson, Baird, Holm, McEachen, Pedersen, Hamann & Strasheim, Omaha, Neb., for appellee.

Before ROSS, Circuit Judge, FLOYD R. GIBSON, Senior Circuit Judge, and HENLEY, Circuit Judge.

ROSS, Circuit Judge.

On May 28, 1981, appellants, Charlotte Fusco and Daniel Boe, filed an amended complaint, 1 pursuant to Section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15 (1976), against the Xerox Corporation (Xerox) alleging unlawful price discrimination under Section 2(a) of the Robinson-Patman Price Discrimination Act, 15 U.S.C. § 13(a) (1976). On June 2, 1981, Xerox filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to

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Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The district court 2 granted the motion to dismiss on September 30, 1981. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and remand to the district court for further proceedings.

This complaint arose out of appellants' purchase of three used Xerox 800-type word processing machines on May 9, 1980, for $14,416.27. The equipment had been previously owned by another individual, Gloria Melbye, who had purchased the word processors from Xerox under an installment sales contract. According to the appellants, prior to purchasing the equipment, they had priced similar equipment for sale by Xerox and had been advised by Xerox that new 800-type word processors would cost $5,500 per unit and that a new 850-type word processor (a more advanced machine) would cost $12,000 per unit. Gloria Melbye assigned her installment contract to the appellants, and Xerox released Melbye from any further obligations under the contract. After this agreement was executed, appellants allegedly learned that Xerox was selling the same 800-type model in new condition to favored customers for only $2,500 and was selling the more advanced 850-type model to favored customers for $7,000.

The key question upon which this case turned in the district court, as well as the question facing this court on appeal, is whether or not under the facts alleged in this case appellants were "purchasers" within the meaning of the Robinson-Patman Price Discrimination Act. The district court concluded that the plaintiffs could not prove under any set of facts that they were "purchasers" for purposes of the Act and that the agreement itself, repeatedly couched in terms of an assignment, contradicts the appellants' allegation that a new sale occurred between Xerox and the appellants.

In reviewing the district court's conclusion it must be remembered that the court is constrained by a stringent standard in passing on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. "(A) complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957) (footnote omitted). A complaint must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and should not be dismissed merely because the court doubts that a plaintiff will be able to prove all of the necessary factual allegations. "Thus, as a practical matter, a dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is likely to be granted only in the unusual case in which a plaintiff includes allegations that show on the face of the complaint that there is some insuperable bar to relief (citations omitted)." Jackson Sawmill Co. v. United States, 580 F.2d 302, 306 (8th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1070, 99 S.Ct. 839, 59 L.Ed.2d 35 (1979).

The Robinson-Patman Act provides in relevant part:

It shall be unlawful for any person engaged in commerce, in the course of such commerce, either directly or indirectly, to discriminate in price between different purchasers of commodities of like grade and quality, where either or any of the purchases involved in such discrimination are in commerce, where such commodities are sold for use, consumption, or resale within the United States or any Territory thereof or the District of Columbia or any insular possession or other place under the jurisdiction of the United States, and where the effect of such discrimination may be substantially to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly in any line of commerce, or to injure, destroy, or prevent competition with any person who either grants or knowingly receives the benefit of such discrimination, or with customers of either of them.

15 U.S.C. § 13(a) (emphasis added).

There is nothing technical or talismanic about the term "purchaser." "The term

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purchaser means simply one who purchases, a buyer, a vendee. It does not mean one who seeks to purchase, a person who goes into the market-place for the purpose of purchasing." Shaw's, Inc. v. Wilson-Jones Co., 105 F.2d 331, 333 (3d Cir. 1939). "Moreover, no single sale can violate the Robinson-Patman Act. At least two transactions must take place in order to constitute a discrimination." Bruce's Juices, Inc. v. American Can Co., 330 U.S. 743, 755, 67 S.Ct. 1015, 1020, 91 L.Ed....

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