Simpson v. Union Oil Company of California

PETITIONER: Simpson
RESPONDENT: Union Oil Company of California
LOCATION: Cumberland Hospital

DOCKET NO.: 87
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 377 US 13 (1964)
ARGUED: Jan 15, 1964 / Jan 16, 1964
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1964

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Simpson v. Union Oil Company of California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1964 in Simpson v. Union Oil Company of California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 15, 1964 in Simpson v. Union Oil Company of California

Earl Warren:

Number 87, Richard S. Simpson versus Union Oil of California.

Mr. Keith.

Maxwell Keith:

May it please the Court.

This is an appeal from a judgment in summary judgment that was entered against the plaintiff below, the petitioner here.

This is an action brought under the provisions of Section 4 of the Clayton Act which allows any person who is injured in trade or rather in his business or property to -- by reason of violations of the antitrust laws to sue thereof and obtain his damages to the treble and counsel fees to be granted.

There are six issues that were raised in the petition for a writ of certiorari to the Ninth Circuit.

I think major the issue before the Court is whether or not a major oil company, who is having thousands of service station sites, can regiment a dealer organization admittedly composed of independent businessmen who are in business for their own profit or loss by a scheme which involves the issuing of a one-year lease and then (Inaudible) dependant on whether or not the dealer prescribes or obeys retail price fixing orders.

This is regardless of the fact of whether or not the dealer -- regardless of how long he has been on that service station site and regardless of the fact that it is admitted that the respondent does continually renew these one-year leases as a matter of its practice to those dealers who do obey the orders of the respondent Union Oil company.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Maxwell Keith:

Yes, Your Honor.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Maxwell Keith:

That was an allegation in the complaint.

The complaint specifically alleges that he lost his service station business because he did not obey price orders and that he was threatened by respondent's agents that he would better raise his prices or he would be out of the service station site.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

(Inaudible)

Maxwell Keith:

Your Honor, we are in a situation here where these facts are stipulated by counsel for respondent and let me answer your question by enumerating at this time the stipulations that are in this record as I understand them as a result of the pretrial proceedings in the District Court.

Let me say as to that matter that petitioner had filed interrogatories to the respondent mainly on the interstate commerce issue and that the District Court thereupon entered an opinion in which he said that he did not feel that pretrial discovery should be granted until pretrial conferences which defined the issues.

And thereupon we had two pretrial conferences in which there were suggestions that this case could be first stipulated and then brought to the Appellate Courts.

When that stipulation broke down there was suggestion that counsel for plaintiff file a pretrial statement for a pretrial ruling that counsel for respondent would then admit or deny those facts and that the appeal to be taken in that direction.

Now there -- so that pretrial statement or pretrial ruling is in the record.

However, counsel did not or respondent did not accept this pretrial statement and rather he noticed the deposition of the plaintiff for a deposition.

The deposition was taken.

Portions of the deposition were thereafter abstracted and presented to the Court in a motion for summary judgment on all issues and that motion for summary judgment on all issues, stipulations were further continued by respondents and at that conference it was suggested that plaintiff, the petitioner here, file a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of violation of the antitrust laws, which was done.

Now that motion for partial summary judgment was denied and the motion for summary judgment on all issues was granted by the District Court.

Now these pretrial conferences, including the motion for summary judgment raise five distinct stipulations by the respondent Union Oil company.

As I have urged in my brief these stipulations were inevitable because the records consisting of policy letters concerning this consignment program pretty much corroborated and compelled these stipulations.

Now the first is, there is no question that the only lease that Union Oil would write was the one-year lease.

The only consignment agreement was a one-year consignment agreement.

However, that consignment agreement was carried on year-to-year, assuming the lease was renewed.

It was stipulated that the only manner in which a service station dealer could obtain a lease from Union Oil Company was to subscribe or sign the retail dealer consignment agreement of Union Oil Company.

Now, this particular tie-in affected approximately 2000 service station sites in the eight specific state areas and also the consignment agreement was entered into with other purchase and sales accounts so that there are (Inaudible) here in 2000 tie-in consignment agreements and an additional approximately 1000 consignment agreements with other types of accounts.