Continental Ore Company v. Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation

PETITIONER: Continental Ore Company
RESPONDENT: Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation
LOCATION: Vilage of Kake

DOCKET NO.: 304
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 370 US 690 (1962)
ARGUED: Apr 16, 1962 / Apr 17, 1962
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1962

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Continental Ore Company v. Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 17, 1962 in Continental Ore Company v. Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 16, 1962 in Continental Ore Company v. Union Carbide & Carbon Corporation

Earl Warren:

Number 304, Continental Ore Company et al., Petitioners, versus Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation et al.

Mr. Alioto.

Joseph L. Alioto:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

It is a private action under the antitrust laws, that was tried in the District Court in San Francisco before a jury.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant and the Court ended its judgement on that verdict.

We contended in the Court of Appeals that that verdict was the product of manifest errors that had certainly been manifested by the time the Court got to the -- the time the case got to the Court of Appeals.

Notably, the defendants in that case, the respondents here, had gambled and lost on what this Court was going to do in the Klor case.

May I ask the Court to give the Klor instruction at time that that case was before the Ninth Circuit?

Addition to that, when we asked the trial judge to give the Bigelow Instruction, the trial judge stated in all seriousness that somebody has to start reversing the Supreme Court and he didn't propose to give the Bigelow instruction because he didn't agree with.

He thought that the -- a more stringent rule should apply in antitrust cases and even in most cases with respect to the measurement of the damages.

In addition to that, the Court held that the respondents here, acting through a Canadian subsidiary, have a right to eliminate the petitioners from their Canadian business to takeaway their Canadian business entirely because the subsidiary of the respondents was acting as a purchaser under authority of the Canadian Government, and it was felt that the American Banana doctrine in some way permitted them to do this with impunity.

In this posture of the case, the Court of Appeals completely avoiding -- avoided having to meet this problem by stating that it would consider all of the evidence even that that was excluded under the American Banana theory.

But that taking all of the evidence in its best like, it felt that it would grant the conspiracy to monopolize had been proved and grant there was economic evidence in the case, relevant economic data to justify a measurement of damages, and grant there was a failure here of petitioners to get a foothold in this business, that with all of that the evidence didn't establish and there was no evidence that could have gone to the jury on the issue of whether or not the respondents had caused this failure.

And so, it said on that basis that since there was no evidence to go to the jury on the issue of legal causation that it didn't have to consider the manifest errors that were in this record.

This Court granted certiorari and the questions we are here to discuss is whether or not under the circumstances where a violation and a rather flagrant violation as in this case is admitted and where the respondents in this case directly said that they intended to eliminate these petitioners and to prevent them from getting a foothold in this industry, there was direct evidence on that, when that is the situation whether the Court can takeaway from a jury the question of legal causation.

The second question we have here on certiorari is whether or not the Court was correct in the -- in excluding the evidence predicated upon the American Banana case and third, whether the action of the Court of Appeals deprived these petitioners of a right to trial by jury.

John M. Harlan II:

The case went to the jury (Inaudible)

Joseph L. Alioto:

The case went to the jury and the verdict was in favor of the respondents in this Court.

We contended it was the product of these errors that we had mentioned.

The Court of Appeals avoided meeting these errors of all by this device that saying there was no legal causation.

John M. Harlan II:

What happened (Inaudible)

Joseph L. Alioto:

I would think under the circumstances particularly with respect to the American Banana theory that was employed by the Court of the case could be sent down to the District Court directly.

But this I think is an unresolved question under the law.

The closest we get to that is the Story Parchment situation where it was contended that that case should have been sent back to the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court said that under the circumstances, it had enough of the record before it to see that there was error, they couldn't be handled in that fashion, that it was simply send it -- simply reverse the Court of Appeals and send it back to the District Court.

Now, the difference between the cases is, Mr. Justice Harlan, that in the Story Parchment case, the petitioners won the jury verdict.

In this case, they lost it.

John M. Harlan II:

Is it a difference?

Joseph L. Alioto:

It is a difference, if Your Honor please.