California Motor Transport Company v. Trucking Unlimited

PETITIONER: California Motor Transport Company
RESPONDENT: Trucking Unlimited
LOCATION: Former Ada County Courthouse

DOCKET NO.: 70-92
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 404 US 508 (1972)
ARGUED: Nov 10, 1971
DECIDED: Jan 13, 1972

ADVOCATES:
Boris H. Lakusta -
Michael N. Khourie - for respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for California Motor Transport Company v. Trucking Unlimited

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1971 in California Motor Transport Company v. Trucking Unlimited

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Number 92, California Motor Transport Company against Trucking Unlimited.

Mr. Lakusta, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Mr. Lakusta.

Boris H. Lakusta:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The -- the issue in this proceeding is whether the -- the facts in a treble damage antitrust complaint, constitute a violation on -- under the Sherman Act.

In this case, a -- a group of 15 certificated motor carriers brought the complaint against a group of 19 motor carriers, certificated motor carriers, alleging that the defendant had violated the Sherman Act.

The complaint was amended and the first amended complaint is one with which we are concerned.

I -- I shall refer to it simply as the complaint.

We move to dismiss it on the ground that it fails to state a cause of action under the Sherman Act.

Judge Sweigert of the Federal District Court agreed with our position and wrote a really extensive opinion.

In support of his views, he gave the plaintiff an opportunity to amend and they did not avail themselves about and instead appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit reversed by a 2-to-1 vote.

The dissenting judge, Senior Judge Hamlin, wrote a separate dissenting opinion.

We then petitioned for a writ of certiorari to this Court.

Now, I turn to the complaint and we'll summarize the -- the fact which it alleges.

That alleges that these defending carriers got together in early 1961 and agreed on a program of protesting all certificate proceedings which might result in competition to the defendant.

All certificate proceedings brought before either the Interstate Commerce Commission or the California Public Utilities Commission.

The program was to include court review in the event the protest before the administrative body should prove unsuccessful.

The allegation is that the defendants agreed to finance a program jointly, under an arrangement under which each carrier would contribute monthly, a sum based on his gross annual revenues, rather than according to his interest or participation in any given case.

The agreement was that the program should be publicized to the carrier industry.

The complaint goes on to allege that the agreement was carried out and has been carried out consistently since 1961.

As to purpose, the allegation is that the agreement and program were designed to reduce or eliminate competition and that to achieve that -- that anticompetitive result, the complaint alleges if we accept plaintiff's version, which I think we must, for purposes of this case, that in defendant's primary intent was to use the words of the complaint, to discourage and deter the plaintiff and others in like position from filing certificate applications or from pursuing those applications, was they did file.

In this connection, the -- the plaintiff say that defendants -- that the defending carriers intended to make as effective, a presentation in each case before the relevant commission as possible.

In fact they recognized that such an intent was essential to the primary purpose of giving authority to the desire to discourage or deter plaintiffs and others in the like position from coming before the Commission.

There's no -- there's no suggestion in the complaint that the defendants were, at anytime, guilty of dishonesty or deception.

There is no suggestion in the complaint that the defendant at anytime offers false or irrelevant testimony.

I would like to turn now to the reasons why we believe the Sherman Act should -- should not be extended to the fact that's alleged.

The two cases on which we chiefly rely are Eastern Railroad Conference versus Noerr, decided in 1961 by this Court.

It -- it was a unanimous decision and Justice Black wrote the decision.

The other case since United Mine Workers versus Pennington, decided four years later in 1965.