Safeway Stores, Inc., v. Vance

PETITIONER: Safeway Stores, Inc.,
RESPONDENT: Vance
LOCATION: Philadelphia Board of Public Education

DOCKET NO.: 69
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 355 US 389 (1958)
ARGUED: Nov 21, 1957
DECIDED: Jan 20, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Safeway Stores, Inc., v. Vance

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 21, 1957 (Part 1) in Safeway Stores, Inc., v. Vance

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 21, 1957 (Part 2) in Safeway Stores, Inc., v. Vance

Earl Warren:

Mr. Tittmann, you may proceed.

John B. Tittmann:

-- Court.

I only have two very brief comments.

I would like to further elaborate briefly on Congress' use of the word “amendatory” in Section 2 and point out that the title of the Act is an act to amend Section 2 of the Act entitled, “An Act to supplement existing laws against unlawful restraints and monopolies, and for other purposes” that appears in the record at page 18 where the entire Robinson-Patman Act is quoted.

For Congress to use in Section 2 the words amendatory act is perfectly descriptive.

It was an amendatory act.

It amended that Section 2.

To describe the act in that fashion is nothing as we see a statement by Congress that everything in the Act is necessarily amendatory or within the definitions of Section 1.

Now, in the -- in the Court of Appeals opinion in the Tenth Circuit, they relied primarily on the Balian case, but they also cited the same District Court decisions that Balian had cited.

There are number of them.

I think they are fully treated in the briefs.

I would just like to make this comment that on analysis, none of them hold in answer to this question.

In other words, they are not decisions and whenever the case is entitled Federal Trade Commission against, it must of necessity referred to violations of Section 2.

The only square decisions on the subject of authorities that I'm aware of are the two District Court cases, the District Court in this case and the Balian case and the two Circuit Court cases, our Circuit Court and the Court of the Seventh Circuit.

Thank you.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Nordhaus.

Robert J. Nordhaus:

Mr. Chief Justice and Honorable Justices.

This case of Vance, who was a trustee in bankruptcy of Frank Melvin Thompson rose in the district of New Mexico and it might help in determining the type of case which Congress attempted to reach under Section 3 of the Robinson-Patman Act to just outline very briefly the allegations of the complaint which complaint was dismissed by the District Court.

The complaint stated that Safeway is a fully integrated chain of grocery stores, the second largest in the United States operating over 2000 stores with sales of a $1,600,000,000 in the year prior to the complaint -- filing of the complaint, 49,000 employees that it operated all kinds of facilities for the processing and distribution of food including 33 grocery warehouses, 24 produced warehouses, 11 meat warehouses, jam, jelly, candy, fluid milk processing plants.

It -- the complaint further alleged that Safeway is the dominant food retailer in West Texas and New Mexico operates some 41 stores in that district with 26 in New Mexico, that by reason of its financial strength, it is capable of destroying competitors at the will of its management.

The complaint further alleged that for -- that Safeway, over a period of six months engaged in a practice of selling merchandise in the City of Albuquerque at prices substantially lower than those exacted for the same goods elsewhere in New Mexico in the United States for the purpose of destroying competition in the grocery business in Albuquerque under section -- in violation of Section 3 of the Robinson-Patman Act and Section 4 of the Clayton Act.

It further alleged that over a period of about a year, Safeway sold goods at unreasonably low prices in the City of Albuquerque for the purpose of destroying competition in violation of these Acts.

It further alleged that Safeway sold certain staple articles of food which were important in every housewife's budget and the sale of which unreasonably low prices was calculated to make it particularly difficult for competitors and designed to attract housewives to Safeway to the destruction of its competitors.

The complaint finally alleged that as a result of these activities, many of Safeway's smaller competitors were destroyed including this plaintiff.

(Inaudible) and bring it under the Moore case.

Robert J. Nordhaus:

Yes, Your Honor under the Moore case.

It is -- the question was asked as to why this action was not brought under Section 2 (a).

It appears to us that the only discriminations as between purchasers which would fall under the said Sections are discriminations between a purchaser and Santa Fe, New Mexico and one in Albuquerque, New Mexico who were not in competition.

Safeway is a completely integrated chain.

It has no sales other than retail sales.