Co v. Joseph Seagram Sons

Decision Date02 January 1951
Docket NumberKIEFER-STEWART,No. 297,297
Citation71 S.Ct. 259,340 U.S. 211,95 L.Ed. 219
PartiesCO. v. JOSEPH E. SEAGRAM & SONS, Inc., et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 340 U.S. 939, 71 S.Ct. 487.

Mr. Paul A. Porter, Washington, D.C., Mr. Joseph J. Daniels, Indianapolis, Ind., for petitioner.

Mr. Paul Y. Davis, Indianapolis, Ind., for respondents.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner, Kiefer-Stewart Company, is an Indiana drug concern which does a wholesale liquor business. Respondents, Seagram and Calvert corporations, are affiliated companies that sell liquor in interstate commerce to Indiana wholesalers. Petitioner brought this action in a federal district court for treble damages under the Sherman Act. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 15, 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1, 15. The complaint charged that respondents had agreed or conspired to sell liquor only to those Indiana wholesalers who would resell at prices fixed by Seagram and Calvert, and that this agreement deprived petitioner of a continuing supply of liquor to its great damage.1 On the trial, evidence was introduced tending to show that respondents had fixed maximum prices above which the wholesalers could not resell. The jury returned a verdict for petitioner and damages were awarded. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed. 182 F.2d 228. It held that an agreement among respondents to fix maximum resale prices did not violate the Sherman Act because such prices promoted rather than restrained competition. It also held the evidence insufficient to show that respondents had acted in concert. Doubt as to the correctness of the decision on questions important in antitrust litigation prompted us to grant certiorari. 340 U.S. 863, 71 S.Ct. 89.

The Court of Appeals erred in holding that an agreement among competitors to fix maximum resale prices of their products does not violate the Sherman Act. For such agreements, no less than those to fix minimum prices, cripple the freedom of traders and thereby restrain their ability to sell in accordance with their own judgment. We reaffirm what we said in United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. 150, 223, 60 S.Ct. 811, 844, 84 L.Ed. 1129: 'Under the Sherman Act a combination formed for the purpose and with the effect of raising, depressing, fixing, pegging, or stabilizing the price of a commodity in interstate or foreign commerce is illegal per se.'

The Court of Appeals also erred in holding the evidence insufficient to support a finding by the jury that respondents had conspired to fix maximum resale prices. The jury was authorized by the evidence to accept the following as facts: Seagram refused to sell to petitioner and others unless the purchasers agreed to the maximum resale price fixed by Seagram. Calvert was at first willing to sell without this restrictive condition and arrangements were made for petitioner to buy large quantities of Calvert liquor. Petitioner subsequently was informed by Calvert, however, that the arrangements would not be carried out because Calvert had 'to go along with Seagram.' Moreover, about this time conferences were held by officials of the respondents concerning sales of liquor to petitioner. Thereafter, on identical terms as to the fixing of retail prices, both Seagram and Calvert resumed sales to other Indiana wholesalers who agreed to abide by such conditions, but no shipments have been made to petitioner.

The foregoing is sufficient to justify the challenged jury finding that respondents had a unity of purpose or a common design and understanding when they forbade their purchasers to exceed the fixed ceilings. Thus, there is support for the conclusion that a conspiracy existed, American Tobacco Co. v. United States, 328 U.S. 781, 809—810, 66 S.Ct. 1125, 1138, 90 L.Ed. 1575, even though, as respondents point out, there is other testimony in the record indicating that the price policies of Seagram and Calvert were arrived at independently.

Respondents also seek to support the judgment of reversal on other grounds not passed on by the Court of Appeals but which have been argued here both orally and in the briefs. These grounds raise only issues of law not calling for examination or appraisal of evidence and we will consider them. Respondents introduced evidence in the District Court designed to show that petiti...

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416 cases
  • Evans v. SS Kresge Company, Civ. A. No. 71-85.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • May 13, 1975
    ...the one here fixing maximum prices are per se illegal as well as those fixing minimum prices, Kiefer-Stewart Co. v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 340 U.S. 211, 71 S.Ct. 259, 95 L.Ed. 219 (1951); Albrecht v. Herald Co., 390 U.S. 145, 88 S.Ct. 869, 19 L.Ed. 2d 998 (1968), defendant contends......
  • In re Mid-Atlantic Toyota Antitrust Litigation
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • April 4, 1983
    ...States v. Parke, Davis & Co., 362 U.S. 29, 80 S.Ct. 503, 4 L.Ed.2d 505 (1960), setting minimum prices; Kiefer-Stewart Co. v. Seagram & Sons, 340 U.S. 21, 71 S.Ct. 259, 95 L.Ed. 219 (1951), setting maximum prices; United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil, 310 U.S. 150, 60 S.Ct. 811, 84 L.Ed. 1129 ......
  • Rea v. Ford Motor Company, Civ. A. No. 67-286.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • January 30, 1973
    ...Mufflers v. International Parts, 392 U.S. 134, 88 S.Ct. 1981, 20 L.Ed.2d 982 (1968). See also Kiefer-Stewart Co. v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 340 U. S. 211, 71 S.Ct. 259, 95 L.Ed. 219 (1950). In this case there is evidence that the defendant conspired or combined with its wholly owned......
  • Consolidated Exp., Inc. v. New York Shipping, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • May 11, 1978
    ...common law barriers to relief where a private suit serves important public purposes. Thus, in Kiefer-Stewart Co. v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 340 U.S. 211, 71 S.Ct. 259, 95 L.Ed. 219 (1951), the court held that plaintiff's participation in an unrelated antitrust conspiracy was no bar ......
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19 books & journal articles
  • United States Law and the Proposed Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin No. 23-4, December 1978
    • December 1, 1978
    ...and control does not liberate corpo-rations from the impact of the antitrust laws." Kiefer-StewartCo.v. Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc., 340 U.S. 211(1951); 884 THE ANTITRUST BULLETINPerma Life Mufflers, Inc., et al. v. International PartsCorp.,392 U.S. 134(1968).In a number of cases invol......
  • Section 7 of the Clayton Act and “Control” in Bank Holding Company Regulation
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin No. 18-4, December 1973
    • December 1, 1973
    ...Corp., 392 U.S. 134 (1968); United States v. Timken RoUerBearing Co., 341 U.S. 593 (1951); Kiefer.StewartCo.v. Jos. E.Seagram &Sons, Inc., 340 U.S. 211 (1951); United States v. YellowCab Co., 332 U.S. 218 (1947); AmericanTobaccoCo. v. United States,328 U.S. 781 (1946); Minnesota Bearing Co.......
  • Illinois. Practice Text
    • United States
    • ABA Antitrust Library State Antitrust Practice and Statutes (FIFTH). Volume I
    • December 9, 2014
    ...this defense, concluding that defendant should bring a separate antitrust action. See Kiefer-Stewart Co. v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, 340 U.S. 211 (1951); Am. Motor Inns v. Holiday Inns, 365 F. Supp. 1073 (D.N.J. 1973), modified , 521 F.2d 1230 (3d Cir. 1975). 223. 740 ILL. COMP. STAT. 10/7......
  • Ohio. Practice Text
    • United States
    • ABA Antitrust Library State Antitrust Practice and Statutes (FIFTH). Volume III
    • December 9, 2014
    ...Ct. App. 1981) (citing Permalife Mufflers v. Int’l Parts Corp., 392 U.S. 134 (1968)). 142. Id. (citing Kiefer-Stewart v. Seagram & Sons, 340 U.S. 211 (1951)). 143. Compare In re Lower Lake Erie Iron Ore Antitrust Litig., No. MDL 587, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5076 (E.D. Pa. 1989), with In re Lo......
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