Hugo Adelberto Thomsen v. Sir Charles Cayser 28 29, 1914, No. 2

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMcKenna
Citation37 S.Ct. 353,61 L.Ed. 597,243 U.S. 66
Docket NumberNo. 2
Decision Date21 June 1915
PartiesHUGO ADELBERTO THOMSEN, Gustave A. Fedderson, Hendrich Johannes Riedel, and Edward H. Muller, Composing the Firm of Thomsen & Company, Plffs. in Err., v. SIR CHARLES W. CAYSER, Charles W. Cayser, Jr., August B. T. Cayser, et al., Composing the Firm of Cayser, Irvine, & Company, et al. Argued April 28 and 29, 1914. Restored to docket for argument before full bench

243 U.S. 66
37 S.Ct. 353
61 L.Ed. 597
HUGO ADELBERTO THOMSEN, Gustave A. Fedderson, Hendrich Johannes Riedel, and Edward H. Muller, Composing the Firm of Thomsen & Company, Plffs. in Err.,

v.

SIR CHARLES W. CAYSER, Charles W. Cayser, Jr., August B. T. Cayser, et al., Composing the Firm of Cayser, Irvine, & Company, et al.

No. 2.
Argued April 28 and 29, 1914.

Restored to docket for argument before full bench June 21, 1915.

Reargued January 19 and 22, 1917.
Decided March 6, 1917.

[Syllabus from pages 66-68 intentionally omitted]

Page 68

Action, brought in the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of New York, by plaintiffs in error against defendants in error and others under the Sherman Act to recover damages for injuries sustained as the result of a combination in restraint of foreign trade.

The defendants, it is charged, being common carriers between New York and South African ports, did, under certain company names, some time prior to December, 1898, enter into a combination and conspiracy in restraint of trade and commerce between New York and ports in South Africa, to be rendered effective by making certain discriminations in rates of freight to be charged which were calculated to coerce and prevent plaintiffs and other shippers and merchants similarly situated from employing such agencies and facilities of transportation as might be afforded them by other common carriers.

For such purpose they united under the name of 'The South African Steam Lines' and distributed a circular1

Page 69

(exhibit A) promising to pay shippers by their lines 10 per cent upon the net amount of freight at tariff rates received on shipments from the United States to Africa, the commission to be computed every six months up to the 31st of January and the 31st of July in each year, and to be payable nine months after such respective dates, but only to shippers who shipped exclusively by their lines to certain African ports, and provided that the shippers directly or indirectly have not made or have not been interested in any shipments by other vessels.

The commission is not payable on the goods of any consignee who directly or indirectly imports goods by vessels other than those despatched by the combining lines.

These terms, it is charged, are against public policy and in restraint of trade.

About the middle of the year 1901 the defendant Deutsche Dampschiffahrts Gesellschaft, Hansa, and the firm of Funch, Edye, & Company, as its agent, offered to trans-

Page 70

port merchandise to South African ports at reasonable rates and lower than those imposed by the other defendants. Thereupon the other defendants, for the purpose of avoiding the competition of those carriers, accepted them into the scheme and combination, and there was agreement between them to continue the monopoly, and another circular was issued like the first, including only the additional announcement that the Deutsche Dampschiffahrts Gesellschaft, Hansa, had been added as one of the parties to the first-named agreement. The circular is attached to the complaint as exhibit B.

Subsequently the defendants adopted a verbal agreement that altered the circulars to the effect that the so-called 'loyal' consignees could collect the so-called rebates regardless of whether the shippers were also loyal; but on the condition that where the shippers and consignees were both loyal, the rebates would be paid to the shippers, while if the consignee alone were loyal, the rebate would be paid by the defendants in London direct to the so-called loyal consignee.

Defendants have not despatched steamers to African ports at stated and regular dates, but have placed steamers on berth to receive general cargo only at such times and for such ports in South Africa as they deemed best for their private gain and profit.

By reason of the monopoly so created by defendants, shippers among whom are plaintiffs—have been compelled to submit to hardships and inconvenience, and to pay unreasonable and higher rates to such extent as to leave at the present time in the possession of defendants collectively, as plaintiffs are informed, about one and one-half million dollars representing the extortion of their rates, and that of such amount £1,112, 7s. 11d. has been extorted from plaintiffs.

Two steamship companies, the Prince Line and the Houston Line, have, since the spring of 1902, offered to

Page 71

carry from the United States to South African ports merchandise for a reasonable and remunerative rate lower than that exacted by defendants.

Defendants, to prevent such steamers from competing, have, in addition to the terms imposed on the South African trade by the circulars above mentioned, imposed further conditions which, while they ostensibly reduced the lower rate of freight and announced that defendants would pay the greater difference arising therefrom, by them called a special commission, they still exacted the payment of the higher rates, by them called tariff rates, at the time of shipment, and imposed the following further condition: (1) Precedent to the payment of such difference they require all shippers to be loyal to them. (2) Each shipper to disclose the name of his consignee. (3) The difference in rates to be computed only on those steamers which would come into direct competition with the steamers of either the Prince Line or the Houston Line, called by defendants 'fighting steamers.' (4) The special commission or rebate to be granted only on limited amounts of freight room, to be allotted at the will and discretion of defendants, additional freight room to be paid for at the higher rate under the conditions expressed in the circulars.

These additional conditions are intended to further restrain trade, and in fact have prevented shippers who had already shipped goods under the original conditions imposed by the circulars from further exporting as much merchandise to South African ports at reasonable rates offered other shippers.

To further secure the monopoly of the carrying trade to such ports and oust competition defendants have threatened to withhold and have withheld by way of forfeit the repayment of the so-called rebates from all those among whom are plaintiffs, so-called by them 'loyal shippers' and 'loyal consignees,' as aforesaid,

Page 72

'who would not continue to remain loyal under the additional conditions superimposed as aforesaid.'

For illustration plaintiffs adduce two instances when they were obliged to pay higher rates on a portion of the shipments, which rates were higher than those offered by the opposition lines, and defendants threatened, if plaintiffs made the shipments over the latter lines upon the more favorable terms, to withhold from repaying plaintiffs all sums previously so compulsorily paid by plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs are informed and believe that since the opposition lines have offered to carry freight to South African ports defendants have, by reason of their conspiracy, refused to allot uniform and proportionate freight room on their steamers, and have arbitrarily discriminated between several shippers and even against the so-called 'loyal' shippers and consignees, with the unlawful intent that the moneys so held by them would be sufficient security to prevent such shippers or consignees from making shipments of or importing their goods by the competing vessels.

By reason of the conspiracy plaintiff and others similarly situated have been compelled either not to ship at all, and to lose a great deal of their trade, or to ship on defendants' steamers a small portion of merchandise at the lower rates, and the remainder, of the same class and even of the identical lot of merchandise, at the higher rates, which is practically prohibitive of any trade whatever by reason of the fact that the substantial difference between the two rates would be a discrimination against the various consignees and customers of plaintiffs and the various shippers and customers of other shippers by the same steamer.

The conspiracy violates the laws of the United States and especially the Act of July 2, 1890 [26 Stat. at L. 209, chap. 647, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8820], entitled, 'An Act to Protect Trade and Commerce against Unlawful Restraints and Monopolies.'

Page 73

Plaintiffs allege damages in the sum of £1,112, 7s. 11d., equal to $5,560, for which they pray as the excess over a reasonable rate, and the further sum of $10,000 damages, and the trebling of these sums.

The defendants, by their company names, filed separate answers in which they deny some of the allegations of the complaint and admit others. They deny conspiracy and combination for the purpose or with the effect set out in the complaint. They admit the making and issuing of the circulars designated A and B in the complaint, but deny that they have the effect or were intended to have the effect ascribed to them.

They admit the refusal to pay plaintiffs certain claims as rebates, but deny the distinction between loyal shippers and loyal consignees and all of the inferences and assertions in regard thereto.

As a separate defense they allege that all freight carried by them for plaintiffs was carried on bills of lading, each of which contained on its face the statement of the amount of freight to be paid, and in respect to which in every instance plaintiffs either paid the freight or agreed to pay the amount of freight stated in the bill of lading, and in each instance gave a due bill which was subsequently paid; that the payments were made freely and voluntarily and without protest; and that, so far as any of the payments were made pursuant or with reference to the printed circulars, plaintiffs co-operated knowingly in such transactions, and cannot now be entitled to any relief on account of payments of freight made thereunder.

It was prayed that the complaint be dismissed.

Upon the issues thus formed there were two trials....

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92 practice notes
  • Ramirez & Feraud Chili Co. v. Las Palmas Food Company, No. 19355.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 8, 1956
    ...of the sovereign. United States v. Sisal Sales Corp., 1927, 274 U.S. 268, 276, 47 S.Ct. 592, 71 L.Ed. 1042; Thomsen v. Cayser, 1917, 243 U.S. 66, 88, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L.Ed. 597; United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, 2 Cir., 1945, 148 F.2d So the problem at bar, as in Steele v. Bulova Wa......
  • State on Information of Dalton v. Miles Laboratories, No. 42152
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 10, 1955
    ...Retail Lumber Dealers' Ass'n v. United States, 234 U.S. 600, 612, 34 S.Ct. 951, 58 L.Ed. 1490, 1499, L.R.A.1915A, 788; Thomsen v. Cayser, 243 U.S. 66, 84, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L.Ed. 597, 605-606. 8 Boston Store of Chicago v. American Graphophone Co., 246 U.S. 8, 25, 38 S.Ct. 257, 62 L.Ed. 551, ......
  • Empresa Hondurena de Vapores, SA v. McLeod, No. 233
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 12, 1962
    ...Lines, Ltd. v. Federal Maritime Board, 295 F.2d 147, 153 (D.C.Cir. 1961), or even taking action with respect thereto, Thomsen v. Cayser, 243 U.S. 66, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L.Ed. 597 (1917). The case is appropriate for application of Mr. Justice Jackson's warning that "in dealing with internation......
  • Vanity Fair Mills v. T. Eaton Co., No. 251
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 1, 1956
    ...which has a substantial effect on commerce between the states or between the United States and foreign countries. Thomsen v. Cayser, 1917, 243 U.S. 66, 88, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L. Ed. 597; N. L. R. B. v. Jones & Laughlin S. Corp., 1937, 301 U.S. 1, 57 S.Ct. 615, 81 L.Ed. 893; Mandeville Island ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
90 cases
  • Ramirez & Feraud Chili Co. v. Las Palmas Food Company, No. 19355.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 8, 1956
    ...of the sovereign. United States v. Sisal Sales Corp., 1927, 274 U.S. 268, 276, 47 S.Ct. 592, 71 L.Ed. 1042; Thomsen v. Cayser, 1917, 243 U.S. 66, 88, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L.Ed. 597; United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, 2 Cir., 1945, 148 F.2d So the problem at bar, as in Steele v. Bulova Wa......
  • State on Information of Dalton v. Miles Laboratories, No. 42152
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 10, 1955
    ...Retail Lumber Dealers' Ass'n v. United States, 234 U.S. 600, 612, 34 S.Ct. 951, 58 L.Ed. 1490, 1499, L.R.A.1915A, 788; Thomsen v. Cayser, 243 U.S. 66, 84, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L.Ed. 597, 605-606. 8 Boston Store of Chicago v. American Graphophone Co., 246 U.S. 8, 25, 38 S.Ct. 257, 62 L.Ed. 551, ......
  • Empresa Hondurena de Vapores, SA v. McLeod, No. 233
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 12, 1962
    ...Lines, Ltd. v. Federal Maritime Board, 295 F.2d 147, 153 (D.C.Cir. 1961), or even taking action with respect thereto, Thomsen v. Cayser, 243 U.S. 66, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L.Ed. 597 (1917). The case is appropriate for application of Mr. Justice Jackson's warning that "in dealing with internation......
  • Vanity Fair Mills v. T. Eaton Co., No. 251
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 1, 1956
    ...which has a substantial effect on commerce between the states or between the United States and foreign countries. Thomsen v. Cayser, 1917, 243 U.S. 66, 88, 37 S.Ct. 353, 61 L. Ed. 597; N. L. R. B. v. Jones & Laughlin S. Corp., 1937, 301 U.S. 1, 57 S.Ct. 615, 81 L.Ed. 893; Mandeville Island ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Economic Philosophy of Anti-Trust Legislation
    • United States
    • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The Nbr. 147-1, January 1930
    • January 1, 1930
    ...permitted to paraphrase this illegal. Cf. cases cited in footnote 26. statement, we should say that the real trouble 26 Thomsen v. Cayser, 243 U. S. 66 (1917); with such criticism is that it has been extended U. S. v. New England Fish Exchange, 258 Fed. into the domain of fiction. The cases......

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