United States v. General Motors Corporation

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: General Motors Corporation
LOCATION: General Petroleum Corporation

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 384 US 127 (1966)
ARGUED: Dec 09, 1965
DECIDED: Apr 28, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. General Motors Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 09, 1965 in United States v. General Motors Corporation

Earl Warren:

Number 46, United States, Appellant, versus General Motors Corporation et al.

Mr. Friedman.

Daniel M. Friedman:

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

One of the most remarkable developments in retail merchandising since the end of World War II has been the development of the discount house.

Today, throughout the country, there exist a larger number of very good and large establishments which are devoted to selling consumer goods primarily as an -- with an emphasis on discount houses.

The tremendous variety of consumer goods almost every type of thing we can think of with one striking exception and that has been new automobiles.

What this case is about is the legality under Section 1 of the Sherman Act of certain actions taken by General Motors and its automobile dealers in order to stop the sale of new Chevrolet automobiles in the Los Angeles area through discount houses in that area.

The Government's complaint in this case filed in the Southern District of California named as the defendants General Motors and three, the associations of automobile dealers in the Los Angeles area.

The individual dealers in that area were named as co-conspirators but not as defendants.

The charge made by the Government was that they had combined and conspired to induce and persuade Chevrolet dealers in that area to refrain from selling Chevrolets through discount houses.

After a trial, the District Court held in favor of the defendant.

The court ruled there had not been any combination or conspiracy and that everything done by General Motors was a valid attempt to enforce a provision of its franchise agreement which I will come to in a moment.

Now --

Byron R. White:

Are you asking relief against the association or not?

Daniel M. Friedman:

Yes, we are asking relief primarily against General Motors, Mr. Justice.

Byron R. White:

Well -- but you -- yes you are asking relief against the association?

Daniel M. Friedman:

We are, yes Mr. Justice.

The -- there's true in so many of these antitrust cases, the basic facts are really not in dispute.

There's no question as to what the court has did.

The real issue is to what inferences ought to be gone from those facts and what can -- legal conclusions prior.

The way in which new --

Are you requesting the findings of fact to the Court?

Daniel M. Friedman:

We are Mr. Justice in few instances.

There are few facts which on one of our theories we would have to overturn and I will come to those a little later on.

We're not making a general attack on the funds.

We are of course challenging the legal conclusions of the District Court.

The way in which these new car discount sales took place is as follows, there were these large discount department stores in the Los Angeles area and within these discount department stores, independent people operated new car departments.

These departments generally occupied a small portion of the premises.

They had available new car literature.

They had in some instances new car models on display.