Hanover Shoe, Inc v. United Shoe Machinery Corp United Shoe Machinery Corp v. Hanover Shoe, Inc, s. 335 and 463

Citation20 L.Ed.2d 1231,392 U.S. 481,88 S.Ct. 2224
Decision Date17 June 1968
Docket NumberNos. 335 and 463,s. 335 and 463
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

See 89 S.Ct. 64.

[Syllabus from pages 481-482 intentionally omitted] James V. Hayes, Washington, D.C., for Hanover Shoe, Inc. Ralph M. Carson, New York City, for United Shoe Machinery Corp.

Mr. Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Hanover Shoe, Inc. (hereafter Hanover) is a manufacturer of shoes and a customer of United Shoe Machinery Corporation (hereafter United), a manufacturer and distributor of shoe machinery. In 1954 this Court affirmed the judgment of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 110 F.Supp. 295 (1953), in favor of the United States in a civil action against United under § 4 of the Sherman Act, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. § 4. United Shoe Machinery Corp. v. United States, 347 U.S. 521, 74 S.Ct. 699, 98 L.Ed. 910. In 1955, Hanover brought the present treble-damage action against United in the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. In 1965 the District Court rendered judgment for Hanover and awarded trebled damages, including interest, of $4,239,609, as well as $650,000 in counsel fees. 245 F.Supp. 258. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the finding of liability but disagreed with the District Court on certain questions relating to the damage award. 377 F.2d 776 (1967). Both Hanover and United sought review of the Court of Appeals' decision, and we granted both petitions. 389 U.S. 818, 88 S.Ct. 86, 19 L.Ed.2d 68 (1967).


Hanover's action against United alleged that United had monopolized the shoe machinery industry in violation of § 2 of the Sherman Act; that United's practice of leasing and refusing to sell its more complicated and important shoe machinery had been an instrument of the unlawful monopolization; and that therefore Han- over should recover from United the difference between what it paid United in shoe machine rentals and what it would have paid had United been willing during the relevant period to sell those machines.

Section 5(a) of the Clayton Act, 38 Stat. 731, as amended, 69 Stat. 283, 15 U.S.C. § 16(a), makes a final judgment or decree in any civil or criminal suit brought by the United States under the antitrust laws 'prima facie evidence * * * as to all matters respecting which said judgment or decree would be an estoppel as between the parties thereto * * *.' Relying on this provision, Hanover submitted the findings, opinion, and decree rendered by Judge Wyzanski in the Government's case as evidence that United monopolized and that the practice of refusing to sell machines was an instrument of the monopolization. United does not contest that prima facie weight is to be given to the judgment in the Government's case. It does, however, contend that Judge Wyzanski's decision did not determine that the practice of leasing and refusing to sell was an instrument of monopolization. This claim, rejected by the courts below, is the threshold issue in No. 463. If the 1953 judgment is not prima facie evidence of the illegality of the practice from which Hanover's asserted injury arose, then Hanover, having offered no other convincing evidence of illegality, should not have recovered at all.1

Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals concluded that the lease only policy had been held illegal in the Government's suit. We find no error in that determination. It is true that § 4 of the decree2 on which United relies condemned only certain clauses in the standard lease and that nowhere in the decree was any other aspect of United's leasing system expressly described or characterized as illegal monopolization. It is also arguable that § 5 of the decree, which required that United thenceforward not 'offer for lease any machine type, unless it also offers such type for sale,' was included merely to insure an effective remedy to dissipate the accumulated consequences of United's monopolization. We are not, however, limited to the decree in determining the extent of estoppel resulting from the judgment in the Government's case. If by reference to the findings, opinion, and decree it is determined that an issue was actually adjudicated in an antitrust suit brought by the Government, the private plaintiff can treat the outcome of the Government's case as prima facie evidence on that issue. See Emich Motors Corp. v. General Motors Corp., 340 U.S. 558, 566—569, 71 S.Ct. 408, 412—414, 95 L.Ed. 534 (1951).

Section 5 of the decree would have been a justifiable remedy even if the practice it banned had not been instrumental in the monopolization of the market. But in our view the trial court's findings and opinion put on firm ground the proposition that the Government's case involved condemnation of the lease only system as such. In both its opinion with respect to violation and its opinion with respect to remedy, the court not only dealt with the objectionable clauses in the standard lease but also addressed itself to the consequences of only leasing machines and to the manner in which that practice related to the maintenance of United's monopoly power.3 These portions of the court's opinion are well supported by its findings of fact, which also estop United as against the Government and which therefore constitute prima facie evidence in this case. We have set out the relevant findings in an Appendix to this opinion. They are themselves sufficient to show that the lease only system played a significant role in United's monopolization of the shoe machinery market. Those findings were not limited to the particular provisions of United's leases. They dealt as well with United's policy of leasing but not selling its important machines, with the advantages of that practice to United, and with its impact on potential and actual competition. When the applicable standard for determining monopolization under § 2 is applied to these facts, it must be concluded that the District Court and the Court of Appeals did not err in holding that United's practice of leasing and refusing to sell its major machines was determined to be illegal monopolization in the Government's case.4


The District Court found that Hanover would have bought rather than leased from United had it been given the opportunity to do so.5 The District Court determined that if United had sold its important machines, the cost to Hanover would have been less than the rental paid for leasing these same machines. This difference in cost, trebled, is the judgment awarded to Hanover in the District Court. United claims, however, that Hanover suffered no legally cognizable injury, contending that the illegal overcharge during the damage period was reflected in the price charged for shoes sold by Hanover to its customers and that Hanover, if it had bought machines at lower prices, would have charged less and made no more profit than it made by leasing. At the very least, United urges, the District Court should have determined on the evidence offered whether these contentions were correct. The Court of Appeals, like the District Court, rejected this assertion of the so-called 'passing-on' defense, and we affirm that judgment.6

Section 4 of the Clayton Act, 38 Stat. 731, 15 U.S.C. § 15, provides that any person 'who shall be injured in his business or property by reason of anything forbidden in the antitrust laws may sue therefor * * * and shall recover threefold the damages by him sustained * * *.' We think it sound to hold that when a buyer shows that the price paid by him for materials purchased for use in his business is illegally high and also shows the amount of the overcharge, he has made out a prima facie case of injury and damage within the meaning of § 4.

If in the face of the overcharge the buyer does nothing and absorbs the loss, he is entitled to treble damages. This much seems conceded. The reason is that he has paid more than he should and his property has been illegally diminished, for had the price paid been lower his profits would have been higher. It is also clear that if the buyer, responding to the illegal price, maintains his own price but takes steps to increase his volume or to decrease other costs, his right to damages is not destroyed. Though he may manage to maintain his profit level, he would have made more if his purchases from the defendant had cost him less. We hold that the buyer is equally entitled to damages if he raises the price for his own product. As long as the seller continues to charge the illegal price, he takes from the buyer more than the law allows. At whatever price the buyer sells, the price he pays the seller remains illegally high, and his profits would be greater were his costs lower.

Fundamentally, this is the view stated by Mr. Justice Holmes in Chattanooga Foundry & Pipe Works v. City of Atlanta, 203 U.S. 390, 27 S.Ct. 65, 51 L.Ed. 241 (1906), where Atlanta sued the defendants for treble damages for antitrust violations in connection with the city's purchases of pipe for its waterworks system. The Court affirmed a judgment in favor of the city for an amount measured by the difference between the price paid and what the market or fair price would have been had the sellers not com- bined, the Court saying that the city 'was injured in its property, at least, if not in its business of furnishing water, by being led to pay more than the worth of the pipe. A person whose property is diminished by a payment of money wrongfully induced is injured in his property.' Id., at 396, 27 S.Ct. at 66. The same approach was evident in Thomsen v. Cayser, 243 U.S. 66, 37 S.Ct. 353 (1917), another treble-damage antitrust case.7 With respect to overcharge cases arising under the transportation laws, similar views were expressed by Mr. Justice Holmes in ...

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