RESPONDENT: Mt. Hood Stages, Inc.
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
DOCKET NO.: 77-598
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 437 US 322 (1978)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1978
Eugene C. Crew - for respondent
John R. Reese - for petitioners
Facts of the case
Media for Greyhound Corporation v. Mt. Hood Stages, Inc.Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1978 in Greyhound Corporation v. Mt. Hood Stages, Inc.
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 19, 1978 in Greyhound Corporation v. Mt. Hood Stages, Inc.
Warren E. Burger:
Mr. Justice Blackmun has two opinions and judgments of the Court to announce, United States against Lasalle National Bank and Greyhound Corporation against Mt. Hood Stage.
Harry A. Blackmun:
I'll take up the latter one first.
This is an antitrust case that comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The petitioner Greyhound and the respondent Mt. Hood Stages are motor common carriers and they're subject to regulation by the interstate Commerce Commission.
Mt. Hood operates over routes in Oregon, and Idaho and Utah; and Greyhound is the largest common carrier by bus in the United States.
The two are competitors in the Northwest section of our country.
In 1964, Mt. Hood instituted a proceeding before the ICC against Greyhound alleging that Greyhound, when it had earlier acquired several bus companies in the Northwest area with ICC approval, had not lived up to representations it made in the Commission proceedings.
Mt. Hood therefore, asked the Commission to reopen those acquisition proceedings and the United States petitioned for leave to intervene.
The government stated in general terms that Mt. Hood's allegations made a serious charge and deserved a hearing.
The Commission's hearing examiner resolved all the factual issues against Greyhound and it ordered Greyhound to abide by the representations it had made in the acquisition proceedings.
Later in 1968, Mt. Hood filed an antitrust action against Greyhound in Federal Court.
The jury found that Greyhound indeed had violated the Sherman Act and the issue then became a matter of remedy.
The District Court held that the intervention by the United States in the Commission proceedings served to toll the statute of limitations under Section 5 of the Clayton Act, and the result in the Court's view was that the Act's four-year-period of limitations extended all the way back to 1960 where it was combined with fraudulent concealment allegations to create a 20-year damages period.
The Court of Appeals affirmed this ruling and held that the literal wording of Section 5 was not controlling.
It also held that the government's petitioner to intervene was what it called the functional equivalent of a direct action by the United States.
The issue before us is the tolling issue.
We hold that the Clayton Act's statute of limitation was not tolled by the filing of the government's petition to intervene in the ICC proceeding.
That proceeding was plainly one not instituted by the United States within the meaning of Section (5) (i).
Indeed the government was not in position to institute the ICC proceeding and nether did the United States complain of, to use the statute words, anything on which the District Court action was based.
So the judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore vacated and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion we have filed today.
I'm authorized to say that the Chief Justice though joined in the opinion with great reluctance, has filed a separate concurring opinion.