Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Inc. v. Wirtz

PETITIONER: Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Inc.
LOCATION: United States Department of Justice

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 383 US 190 (1966)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1965
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Inc. v. Wirtz

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1965 in Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Inc. v. Wirtz

Earl Warren:

Number 30, Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Incorporated, Petitioner, versus W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor.

Mr. Weston.

Eli A. Weston:

Mr. Chief Justice Warren, may it please the Court.

The sole issue in this case is whether or not the petitioner is entitled to the retail establishment exemption, provided in Section 13 (a) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The case was tried in the Southern District of Idaho before the Honorable Fred Taylor after a pretrial stipulation with which it was agreed the sole issues of whether or not the petitioner's establishment was considered a retail establishment within the industry.

A second issue was in the stipulation as to whether or not it was a mixed issue of fact and law as to whether or not the petitioner's establishment complied with the so-called retail concept.

After a two-day of trial in which seven or eight witnesses were introduced, the Court made findings of fact which among other things stated as follows, the defendant is engaged in the City of Burley, a small farming community in the State of Idaho in the making, selling and installing, and repairing of sheet metal products including the sale of Southern Sheet Metal, waterspouts, elbows, and similar items.

And that during the years 1959 and 1960 and 1961, the defendant's products and services were sold concede no processors engaged in interstate commerce.

The sale and services for the most part made and rendered intermittently enduring the down seasons.

That the defendant's business was established with a purpose of serving the City of Burley and the surrounding community making sales and rendering services to a variety of customers predominantly in number of sales to farmers, ranchers, and local individuals and businesses.

All of the defendant's sales of services were in the State of Idaho and on a retail basis.

The defendant's business is local in its nature, was established for the purpose of serving the Burley area, and it's not closely related to nor directly essential to the production of goods for or in commerce but for the primary purpose of serving local needs.

That the products sold and services rendered to the processing communities where for the most part similar to items which could be and sometimes are fabricated by the processing companies in their in-plant shops.

The products produced by the defendant do not enter the channels of interstate commerce.

The defendant's prices per services and product are computed on the same basis for all customers.

Fabricated parts are uniformly priced on the basis of material operating cost and its profit.

The defendant's non-fabricated products such as steels, solder, and other items are displayed on racks or shelves and are similar in this respect to what is described a tin shop.

The defendant's establishment is recognized as a retail establishment by the defendant and salesmen within the industry and none of the sales made by the defendant were for resale.

Based on this pretrial stipulation and the evidence in the case, the Court found that the petitioner's establishment was not closely related to or directly essential to interstate commerce.

And I believe the finding was based somewhat on the decision by this Court in Zachry versus Mitchell which the late immanent jurist, Justice Frankfurter in the opinion in which there were three or four dissenters ruled that it was perhaps time that we examined the question of how far the Government should go in regulating or encroaching upon what is in effect a purely local business set up to regulate or set up to serve a local community.

Hugo L. Black:

I didn't understand to which case you refer.

Eli A. Weston:

Zachry versus -- Mitchell versus Zachry.

Hugo L. Black:


Eli A. Weston:

Mitchell versus Zachry case.

Hugo L. Black:

Mitchell versus Zachry.

Eli A. Weston:

In Mitchell versus Zachry case, a city had built a dam or impounded water and it developed that the water from this dam was being used by people who were engaged to producing goods for commerce.

There's a very similar and there's a great deal of similarity between the two cases because in that case, this Court held that the purpose of the dam or the purpose of the impounding of the water was to serve the local community and that 50% or more of the sales of this water was to the community and in point of number, I think this is what then goes to the Court somewhat.

In point of number of sales, not the total volume, this establishment had maybe a thousand sales to what the record shows versus six or seven sales to producers who were in the interstate commerce in the point of number.

The Court also found of course that we were a retail establishment as defined by the 1949 Amendment of the Fair Labor Standard Act.

The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit Court reversed the District Court on both counts.