Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc.

PETITIONER: Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference
RESPONDENT: Noerr Motor Freight, Inc.
LOCATION: John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 127 (1961)
ARGUED: Dec 12, 1960 / Dec 13, 1960
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 12, 1960 in Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 13, 1960 in Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Eastern Railroads Presidents Conference et al., Petitioners, versus Noerr Motor Freight, Incorporated, et al.

Mr. Kohn, you may continue your argument.

Harold E. Kohn:

Thank you, sir.

With the permission of the Court, I should like this morning to refer Your Honors to several specific places in the record where I think there are contained findings of fact which pretty clearly established what this particular case is about.

First in Volume 4 of the transcript of the record as you all kindly turn to page 88, you will see about two thirds of the way down a portion of the opinion of the District Court.

I might say incidentally that the District Court states and that in addition to the findings of fact, which it makes specifically that the findings and the statements contained in its opinion, are to be treated as findings.

John M. Harlan II:

Where is that (Voice Overlap) --

Harold E. Kohn:

Page 88, sir.

Beginning with the italicized portion, it was the purpose and intent of Messrs, Deegan, Littlefield and Mackie.

Those are all railroad or Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference officials on the one side and Byoir on the other to hurt the truckers in every way possible even though they secured no legislation.

It was their purpose to restrict the activities of the truckers in the long-haul industry to the greatest extent possible and finally, if possible, to drive them out of that segment of the entire transportation industry.

Now, if you'll turn please to page 100 or just (Inaudible) before this.

The Court states in the first whole paragraph on that page beginning about halfway down, it was a matter of first impression with the court upon the original reading of the complaint when this suit was instituted some four and half years ago that the charges made were rather incredible nature and that plaintiffs herein will have the most difficult test to establish their contentions by a fair preponderance of the evidence.

It is now apparent that with the exception of proving by a preponderance of the evidence, actual bribery of public officials and bribery of officers of public organization, the plaintiffs approved by a great preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy in violation of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts actually existed its formation, its purpose, and the means by which it was affected and generally in the form and manner as alleged in the complaint, and I will refer to the complaint just a moment or two.

At page 101, the last paragraph beginning on that page, the Court has found as a fact that the railroads in Byoir entered into a conspiracy and unreasonable restraint of trade, the nature and purpose of which was to injure the truckers and their competitive position in the long-haul freight industry in the Northeastern section of the United States.

This of course involves interstate commerce.

The immediate purpose was to create public resentment to the truckers, not only in the minds of the general public, but in the minds of those who utilize the service of the trucks and in such a manner as to interfere with business relations between shippers and truckers.

Then finally, at the bottom of page 102 the sentence beginning about five lines from the bottom instead, "Instead of meeting the competition in the field in giving the shippers what the shippers wanted they," that's the defendants, "determined upon another course of action to injure and/or destroy the truckers and thereby force the shippers to their detriment to continue to use the railroads."

Now, if you could please turn back to page six but I want to show you one or two paragraphs of the complaint which make it quite clear that throughout this case and not only as episode at the end was the problem of our suppliers, shippers, customers and so on in this case.

On page 6 of the same volume of the record to which I have previously eluded, you will see under subheading E of paragraph 16 among the things that we complained that they were doing.

Vilification and defamation of the plaintiffs by the circulation to the public generally, to public officials and to suppliers and customers of the plaintiffs are false and malicious reports of and concerning the plaintiffs in their business of hauling freight.

And there were one or two other places where the same thing appeared, which I don't think I referred to you in reading.

And then finally, on the findings themselves, the specific findings, if you'll turn please to page 25, finding number 12, the bottom of the page, "On or about May 19, 1949, defendants other than Byoir, I may say here that there's another finding 14 which says Byoir came in to the later day, "acting through the ERPC, as Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference, combined then conspired with the intent and for the purpose and objective of eliminating truck operators including plaintiff trucking companies from the long-haul of transportation of freight and interstate commerce and the eastern territory and monopolizing that portion of interstate transportation in commerce for defendant railroads.

And on page 27, number 20, the third-person technique was adopted by defendant so as the public, including governmental officials, would not be able properly to evaluate their propaganda thus disseminated and in order to achieve for it, wider distribution and more favorable reception.

Earl Warren:

Where is -- where is that did you say?

Harold E. Kohn:

That sir is number 20 on page 27 about the middle of the page.

Earl Warren:

Oh, 27, yes.

Harold E. Kohn:

Now, the next, and I have just two more of these are on -- the next is on page 28 and it also is number 28.

It's not a basic finding such as those that I referred to but it does refer to one of the articles, which I think the Chief Justice may have inquired about yesterday.

And it's simply (Inaudible) perhaps 10 or 15 which covers specific types of material within volume 3.