Federal Trade Commission v. Standard Oil Company

PETITIONER: Federal Trade Commission
RESPONDENT: Standard Oil Company
LOCATION: Wolverine Tube, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 24
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 355 US 396 (1958)
ARGUED: Nov 14, 1957 / Nov 18, 1957
DECIDED: Jan 27, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Federal Trade Commission v. Standard Oil Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1957 in Federal Trade Commission v. Standard Oil Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1957 in Federal Trade Commission v. Standard Oil Company

Earl Warren:

Number 24, Federal Trade Commission, Petitioner, versus the Standard Oil Company.

Mr. Chaffetz, you may proceed.

Hammond E. Chaffetz:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

On Thursday last, I'd made the point that the decision of the court below, the court's holding, was squarely in accord with the controlling decisions of this Court.

The Attorney General's letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee which is appended to our brief indicates that the Department of Justice takes precisely the same view of the opinion of the court below as we do, namely, that it applied -- accepted principles of law and simply conformed to the prior opinion of this Court in this very case.

With respect to the factual conclusions of the court below, I pointed out that there are at least a half a dozen independent appraisals of the record that are incorporated in the record.

The trial examiner, the Court of Appeals on the first appeal, the dissenting Commissioners, all of which are in accord with the conclusion, the factual conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals from which I draw the conclusion that it might -- that it should be rather difficult for anybody to assert now that what the Court of Appeals did wasn't rational and didn't reflect a fair assessment of the record.

There were just too many other independent examinations of the record, which came through precisely the same conclusion as the -- as the lower court did.

Now, this morning, I should like to address myself to some of the highlights of the -- of the factual evidence to deal with the competitive offers, the efforts of respondent to retain these four customers.

I shall refer to the fact that a number of customers were lost to competitors because of even lower offers and then respondent was willing to meet.

I should talk about the practices of -- of respondent's competitors and point out that the -- it isn't true, that -- that all conduct their business in the same way or even substantially the same way.

I shall point out that the offers that were made by our competitors were not unlawful offers.

They were on this record and this -- and this posture of the case of lawful offers of competitors.

And I shall point out that many of the competitive offers were from suppliers who sold only at one price.

I shall have occasion to -- to note that gasoline of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, the Ohio Oil Company, Pure, Phillips, Cities Service, Aurora, a local refinery.

Felix Frankfurter:

Do I understand from your -- am I justified in inferring from what you've said that your case essentially rests in supporting the decision below on a demonstration of the record that these were responsive, defensive action, do I understand that?

Hammond E. Chaffetz:

Precisely, Your Honor.

And we do not contend, we do not contend even remotely that we were entitled to follow a discriminatory policy because our competitors were following the same policy.

If that were the factual situation, I wouldn't be here.

Hugo L. Black:

Would that require us to read the entire record?

Hammond E. Chaffetz:

I think not, Your Honor.

Hugo L. Black:

That would have to be voted.

Hammond E. Chaffetz:

Because if you reach the point where your only alternative is to examine the entire record then you fall back on Universal Camera, Pittsburgh Steamship and -- and cases of that sort which indicate that where the Court of Appeals decision is rational presents a fair assessment.

This Court doesn't sit to conduct, to make an independent reexamination of -- of the record.

And I think there's more than enough in this record to reassure, Your Honors, that it isn't necessary to examine the record.

If you look at the findings of the trial examiner, if you look at the dissenting opinion of -- of Mr. -- Commissioner -- the Commissioner (Inaudible) and the dissenting opinion of -- of Commissioner Mason and -- and the other -- and that is in the record to which I referred on -- on Thursday.

I feel confident that you, too, will be satisfied that the court below did make a fair assessment of -- of the entire record.

Could I ask you a question about the court?

Hammond E. Chaffetz:

Yes, sir.

Did the Court of Appeals find that the -- any of these prices to be (Inaudible) were in response to definite (Inaudible)