Pfizer Inc. v. Government of India

PETITIONER: Pfizer Inc.
RESPONDENT: Government of India
LOCATION: University of Missouri- Kansas City

DOCKET NO.: 76-749
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 434 US 308 (1978)
ARGUED: Nov 01, 1977
DECIDED: Jan 11, 1978

ADVOCATES:
Douglas V. Rigler - for respondents
Samuel W. Murphy, Jr. - for petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Pfizer Inc. v. Government of India

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 01, 1977 in Pfizer Inc. v. Government of India

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 11, 1978 in Pfizer Inc. v. Government of India

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the court in 76-749 Pfizer against the Government of India and others will be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

This case is here by way of grant of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit.

We are asked in this case to decide whether a foreign nation is entitled to sue in our courts for treble damages under the anti-trust laws.

The respondents are the Government of India, the Imperial Government of Iran, and the Republic of the Philippines.

They brought separate actions in Federal District Court against the petitioners, who are six pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.

Their complaints alleged that the petitioners had conspired to restrain and monopolize interstate and foreign trade in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of so called broad spectrum antibiotics, in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.

Each respondent claimed that, as a purchaser of antibiotics, it had been damaged in its business or property by the alleged anti-trust violations, and each sought treble damages under section 4 of the Clayton Act.

The petitioners asserted as an affirmative defense to the complaints, that the respondents as foreign nations were not "persons" entitled to sue for treble damages under section 4.

In response to pretrial motions, the District Court held that the respondents were "persons," and refused to dismiss the actions.

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, and we granted certiorari to resolve an important and novel question in the administration of the anti-trust laws.

For the reasons set out in some detail in the written opinion of Court filed today with the clerk, we hold that a foreign nation otherwise entitled to sue in our courts is entitled to sue for treble damages under the anti-trust laws to the same extent as any other plaintiff.

Neither the fact that the respondents are foreign nor the fact that they are sovereign is reason to deny them the remedy of treble damages Congress afforded to "any person" victimized by violations of the anti-trust laws.

Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

The Chief Justice has filed a dissenting opinion that Mr. Justice Powell and Mr. Justice Rehnquist have joined.

And Mr. Justice Powell has filed a separate dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Blackmun took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.