Hopkins v. United States, 210

Citation43 L.Ed. 290,19 S.Ct. 40,171 U.S. 578
Decision Date24 October 1898
Docket NumberNo. 210,210
PartiesHOPKINS et al. v. UNITED STATES
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

This suit was commenced by the United States attorney for the district of Kansas, acting under the direction and by the authority of the attorney general of the United States, against Henry Hopkins and the other defendants, residents of the state of Kansas, and members of a voluntary unincorporated association known and designated as the Kansas City Live-Stock Exchange. The purpose of the action is to obtain the dissolution of the exchange, and to perpetually enjoin the members from entering into or from continuing in any combination of a like character.

As a foundation for the relief sought, it was alleged in the bill that the members of this association known as the Kansas City Live-Stock Exchange have adopted articles of association, rules, and by-laws, which they have agreed to be bound by; that the business of the exchange is carried on and conducted by a board of directors at the Kansas City stock yards, which are situated partly in Kansas City in the state of Missouri, and partly in Kansas City in the state of Kansas, the building owned by the stock-yards company being located one-half of it in the state of Missouri, and the other half in the state of Kansas, and half of the defendants have offices and transact business in these stock yards, and in that part of the building which is within the state of Kansas, and the other half in that part of the building which is in the state of Missouri; that the Kansas City Stock-Yards Company is a corporation owning the stock yards where the business is done by the members of the exchange; that substantially all the business transacted in the matter of receiving, buying, selling, and handling their live stock at Kansas City is carried on by the defendants herein, and by the other members of the exchange, as commission merchants, and that large numbers of the live stock, consisting of cattle and hogs and sheep bought and sold and handled at the stock yards by the defendants and their fellow members in the exchange, are shipped from the states of Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas, and the territories of Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico; that when this stock is received at the stock yards it is sold by the defendants, members of the exchange, to the various packing houses situated at Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., and it is also sold for shipment to the various other markets, particularly Chicago, St. Louis, and New York; that vast numbers of cattle, hogs, and other live stock are received annually at the stock yards, and handled by the members of the exchange.

The bill also alleges that large numbers of the live stock sold at the stock yards by the defendants are incumbered by mortgages thereon executed by their owners in the various states and territories, which mortgages have been given to various defendants as security for money advanced by them to the different owners to enable them to feed and prepare the cattle for market, and that, when the live stock so mortgaged are ready for shipment, they are sent to the defendants, who have advanced the money and received the mortgages, and on the sale of the stock the amount of these advances and interest is deducted from the proceeds of the sale of the cattle by the commission merchants owning the mortgages; that 90 per cent. of the members of the exchange make such advances, and that the market is largely sustained by means of the money thus advanced to the cattle raisers by the defendants, and that Kansas City is the only place for many miles about which constitutes an available market for the purchase and sale of live stock from the large territory located in the states and territories already named; that it is the custom of the owners of the cattle, many of them living in different states, and who consign their stock to the Kansas City stock yards for sale, to draw drafts on the commission merchants to whom the live stock is consigned, which the consignors attach to the bill of lading issued by the carrier, and the money on these drafts is advanced by the local banks throughout the Western states and territories. These drafts are paid by the consignees, and the proceeds remitted to the various owners, through the banks.

The business thus conducted is alleged to be interstate commerce, and it is further alleged that, if the person to whom the live stock is consigned at Kansas City is not a member of the exchange, he is not permitted to, and cannot, sell or dispose of the stock at the Kansas City market, for the reason that the defendants, and all the other commission merchants, members of the exchange, refuse to buy live stock or in any manner negotiate or deal with or buy from a person or commission merchant who is not a member of the exchange, and thus the owner of live stock shipped to the Kansas City market is compelled to reship the same to other markets, and by reason of the unlawful combination existing among the defendants and the other members of the exchange the owner is prevented from delivering this stock at the Kansas City stock yards, and the sale of stock is thereby hindered and delayed, entailing extra expense and loss to the shipper, and placing an obstruction and embargo on the marketing of all live stock shipped from the states and territories to the Kansas City market which is not consigned to the stock-yards company, or to the defendants, or some of them, members of the stock exchange.

It is alleged that the defendants, as members of the exchange, have adopted certain rules, among them being rules 9 and 16, which are particularly alleged to be in restraint of trade and commerce between the states, and intended to create a monopoly, in contravention of the laws of the United States in that behalf.

Rule 9 provides as follows:

'Section 1. Commissions charged by members of this association for selling live stock shall not be less than the following named rates.'

Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 relate to the amounts of such commissions, and it is alleged that in some instances the commissions are greater than had theretofore been paid.

Section 8 permits the members to handle the business of nonresident commission firms, when the stock is consigned directly to or from such firm, at half the rates fixed by the rule, provided the nonresident commission firms are extablished at the markets named in the section.

Section 10 prohibits the employment of any agent, solicitor, or employ e, except upon a stipulated salary, not contingent upon the commissions earned; and it provides that not more than three solicitors shall be employed at one time by a commission firm or corporation, resident or nonresident of Kansas City.

Section 11 forbids any member of the exchange from sending or causing to be sent a prepaid telegram or telephone message quoting the markets, or giving information as to the condition of the same, under the penalty of a fine as therein stated. The rule, however, permits prepaid messages to be sent to shippers, quoting actual sales of their stock on the date made; also, to perties desiring to make purchases on the market.

Rule 16 provides, in section 1, 'that no member of the exchange shall transact business with any persons violating any of the rules or regulations of the exchange, or with an expelled or suspended member, after notice of such violation, suspension, or expulsion shall have been issued by the secretary or board of directors of the exchange.'

It is alleged that the defendants, in adopting these rules and in forming the exchange, and carrying out the same, have violated and are violating the statute of the United States, approved July 2, 1890, entitled. 'An act to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies'; and it is charged that it was the purpose of the defendants, in organizing the exchange and in adopting the rules mentioned, to prevent the shipment or consignment of any live stock to the Kansas City market unless it was shipped or consigned to the Kansas City stock yards, and to some one or other of the defendants, members of the exchange, and to compel the shippers of live stock from other states and from the territories to pay to the defendants the commissions and charges provided for in rule 9, and to prevent such shippers from placing their property on sale at the Kansas City market unless these commissions were paid.

The answer of the defendants admitted their forming the exchange and becoming members thereof, and adopting, among others, the rules specially mentioned in complainants' bill. They denied that the exchange itself engaged in any business whatever, and alleged that it existed simply in order to prescribe rules and provide facilities for the transaction of business by the members thereof, and to govern them by such rules and regulations as have been evolved and sanctioned by the developments of commerce, and which are universally recognized to be just and fair to all concerned.

It was further set up in the answer that each member of the organization was in fact left free to compete in every manner, and by all means recognized to be fair and just, for his share of the business which comes to the point at which the members of the organization do business; that in adopting their rules they followed in all substantial respects the provisions which had been made upon the same subject, respectively, by the exchanges theretofore established at Chicago and East St. Louis, Ill., and which have been since established at St. Louis, Omaha, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Sioux City, and Ft. Worth; that the exchange at no time refused to admit as a member any reputable person who was willing to comply with the conditions of membership, and to abide by the rules of the organization.

Various allegations in the bill as to the effect of the organization in precluding any sales or purchases of cattle other than...

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