Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Opinion of the Court. “concentrate" in the hands of few, practically, and, as a matter of fact, and according to the known results of human action, to the exclusion of oth- [725] ers; to accomplish this end by what, in popular language, is expressed in the word

pooling," which may be defined to be an aggregation of property or capital belonging to different persons, with a view to common liabilities and profits. The expression in each law "combination in the form of trust” would seem to point to just what, in popular language, is meant by pooling.

Now it is to be observed that nese statutes outline an offense, but require for its complete commission no ulterior motive, such as to defraud, etc.; and, further, that the language is altogether silent as to what means must be used to constitute the offense. The offense is defined to combine in the form of trust, or otherwise, in restraint of trade or commerce,” and “ to monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, any of the trade or commerce.” To compass either of these things, with no other motive than to compass them, and by any means, constitutes the offense. One just and decisive test of the meaning of the expression “to monopolize” is obtained by getting at the evil which the law-maker has endeavored to abolish and restrict. The statutes show that the evil was the hindrance and oppression in trade and commerce wrought by its absorption in the hands of the few, so that the prices would be in danger of being arbitrarily and exorbitantly fixed, because all competition would he swallowed up, so that the man of small means would find himself excluded from the restrained or monopolized trade or commerce as absolutely as if kept out by law or force. If this is the meaning of the defining words, does not this corporation, thus glutted with the 35 industries of 12 states, disclose an “attempt to monopolize?” So far, therefore, as the complainant's business is a combination in restraint of trade, or is an

attempt to monopolize, or combine, in the form of a trust, or otherwise, any part of trade or commerce," as these words are properly defined, the law stamps it as unlawful, and the courts should not encourage it. Aside from this, the complainant's business, even if lawful, being of the kind shown above, is not of that meritorious kind that it should be encouraged by a court of equity. The appointment of a re

Syllabus.

ceiver by a court of equity is not a matter of strict right, but of judicial discretion. Fosdick v. Schall, 99 U. S. 235. It falls within that class of interlocutory remedies which courts must grant or withhold, according to a discretion conscientiously exercised, upon a consideration of all the facts which a cause presents, involving the rights of the parties and the interests of the public. The attempt to accumulate in the hands of a single organization the business of supplying bread itself to so large a portion of the poor, as well as the rich, people of the United States should not be favored by a court of equity. It carries with it too much of danger of excluding healthy competition, thereby increasing the difficulty to the general public of participating in a most useful business, as well as adding to the possibility of multitudes of citizens being temporarily, at least, compelled to pay an arbitrary and high price for daily food.

Whatever we may feel compelled to do, on the final hearing of this cause, towards recognizing the complainant's legal rights, and compelling a faithless trustee to account, we are clear that at this preliminary stage, [726] with our present impressions of the character and general scope of complainant's business, the court ought not, by the appointment of a receiver, to aid complainant to perfect, and perhaps to enlarge, his combination or trust; and the refusal to appoint a receiver can result in no serious and lasting injury to complainant, because the shares of stock of complainant company, forming the entire consideration of complainant's purchase, have been tendered in court, and may be impounded, to be held as security for any damages susceptible of proof resulting from defendant's mismanagement of the property pending the suit. The motion for a receiver is denied.

[432] UNITED STATES V. JELLICO MOUNTAIN

COAL & COKE CO. ET AL..

(Circuit Court, M. D. Tennessee, June 4, 1891.)

(46 Fed., 432.] CONSPIRACY—TRUST COMBINATION-INTERSTATE COMMERCE.-An agree

ment between coal mining companies operating chiefly in one state

a See also page 1 (43 Fed., 898).

Opinion of the Court. and dealers in coal in a city in another state, creating a coal exchange to advance the interests of the coal bu ness, to treat all parties to the business in a fair and equitable manner, and to establish the price of coal, and change the same from time to time, by which it was agreed that the price of the coal at the mines should be 41 cents, the freight being 4 cents, and the margin of the dealer should be 41 cents, making the price to the consumer 13 cents, and that, whenever the price of the coal is advanced beyond an advance in freights, one-half the advance shall go to the mine owner, and the other half to the dealer, and a penalty was provided by fine, of any member selling coal at a less price than the price fixed by the exchange, and by which it was forbidden for owners or operators of mines to sell coal to any person other than members of the organization, and for dealers to purchase of miners who were not members, but exempting coal used for manufacturing and steamboat purposes from the prices prescribed until all the mines tributary to that market shoud come into the exchange, or until the exchange could control the prices of coal used by manufacturers, is within the language of Act Cong. July 2, 1890, declaring every contract or combination in the form of a trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states," and also the monopolizing, or combination with another to monopolize, trade or commerce among the several states, a misdemeanor.

In Equity. On bill for injunction.

John Ruhm, U. S. Atty., Lee Broock, Asst. Dist. Atty., and James Trimble, for the United States.

Tillman & Tillman, Henderson & Jourolman, and Hill & Granberry, for defendants. [433] KEY, J.

The petition in this case is filed against the members of the Nashville Coal Exchange. The membership of the exchange is composed of various coal mining companies oper ating mines in Kentucky and Tennessee, chiefly in Kentucky, and of persons and firms dealing in coal at Nashville, Tenn. It is alleged that the purposes, objects, and agreement of the defendants are in violation of an act of congress approved July 2, 1890, entitled "An act to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies," and the petition seeks to restrain and prevent the violations of the act by injunction under section 4 of the law. The first section Opinion of the Court. of the act declares that “every contract or combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states, is declared illegal.” The second section declares that “every person who shall monopolize, or combine or conspire with another person or persons to monopolize, any part of the trade or commerce among the several states

e Syllabus copyrighted, 1891, by West Publishing Co.

shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” A violation of the first section is a misdemeanor also. By the fourth section jurisdiction is conferred upon the circuit courts of the United States to prevent and restrain violations of the act, and it is made the duty of district attorneys in their respective districts, under the direction of the attorney general of the United States, to institute proceedings in equity to prevent and restrain such violations. The articles of agreement between the defendants provide, among other things, that the objects of this exchange are," To do all in its power to advance the interests of the coal business at Nashville, to treat all parties to this agreement in a fair and equitable manner, and to establish prices on coal at Nashville, Tenn., and to change same from time to time, as occasion may require.” Prices to consumers at Nashville are to be established so as to sell coal at a fair and reasonable price, so as to allow all parties a fair profit for their product. Every person, firm, or corporation owning or operating mines who ship coal to Nashville shall be eligible to membership in this exchange, and all coal dealers in the city of Nashville are also eligible to membership. None others are eligible. Any member of the exchange who may withdraw from it, and continue in the coal trade in Nashville, or ship any coal to Nashville, shall forfeit and relinquish all interest of any and every kind, however obtained or accrued. The exchange will from time to time establish prices at which coal shall be sold in Nashville. Coal classed as No. 1 shall be valued at the mines at 41 cents minimum price for bushel of 80 pounds lump, and freight being 4 cents, the dealer's margin to be 41 cents, making the price of lump coal 13 cents per bushel; No. 2 to be valued at 5 cents at the mine; No. 3 at 6 cents; and when the above prices are advanced in excess of the advance in freights, then one-half the advance shall go to the mine owners and one-half to the dealers. Every member

Opinion of the Court.

found guilty of selling coal at a less price than the price fixed by the exchange, either directly or indirectly, shall be fined 2 cents per bushel and $10 for the first offense, and 4 cents per bushel and $20 for the second offense. A majority of all the members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Owners or operators of mines [434) shall not sell or ship coal to any person, firm, or corporation in Nashville, or West Nashville, or East Nashville, who are not members of the exchange, and dealers shall not buy coal from any one not members of the exchange. All coal used for manufacturing and steam-boat purposes shall be exempt from prices made by the exchange until all mines tributary to this market shall become members of the exchange, or until the exchange can control prices to govern coal used by manufacturers. No coal shall be sold in any month to be delivered in any following month except at prices fixed for the particular month in which coal so sold is to be delivered. Fines and penalties are declared, so as to enforce the stipulations embodied in the constitution and by-laws of the exchange.

It can hardly be denied that such provisions as these, by a body of persons such as compose this exchange, is a contract or combination in restraint of trade or commerce, or an attempt between different persons to monopolize a part of the trade or commerce, between parties who are citizens of or reside in different states. It is shown that several mining companies in Kentucky engaged in raising coal, and most of the coal dealers of Nashville, Tenn., have entered into the foregoing mentioned arrangement. It is insisted for the defendants that the subject of agreement is not interstate commerce; that the obligation as to the mining companies ends at the mines. The price is fixed and paid at that point, and consequently controversies in regard to the contract as to them belong exclusively to the courts of the state of Kentucky; that, so far as the dealers are concerned, the price of the coal is fixed for its sale at Nashville, and after it becomes their property by delivery to them, and therefore the courts of Tennessee have the jurisdiction as to them. Various authorities are cited, and the debates in the senate of the United States are read, to sustain this view of the case. As

« AnteriorContinuar »