Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

of the Osceola Company's property more profitable to the latter's stockholders than heretofore. It submits that the acts complained of do not offend against either the federal anti-trust act, the Michigan anti-monopoly act, or common-law equity principles; that if the acts complained of are unlawful the remedy by injunction may be invoked only by the Attorney General of the United States, or the Attorney General or prosecuting attorneys of the state of Michigan; that, if such injunctive relief may be given to a private party, it can be given only to the Osceola Company; that complainant, as a minority stockholder, has shown no right to act on behalf of the corporation; that no peculiar injury to complainant, actual or threatened, is alleged; and that, upon the face of the testimony presented, an injunction in advance of final hearing would be an unwarranted divesting of property rights and an unwarranted disturbing of the existing status.

1. The bill plainly alleges a violation of law, unless the transaction complained of is made lawful by the fact that the alleged attempted monopoly is proposed to be accomplished by means of a control of stock in a competing company, rather than by direct previous agreement between the two companies. The allegation is, in substance, that the stock has been purchased, and the proxies obtained, for the purpose of suppressing competition between two otherwise competing companies, and that the proposed control will in fact enable the creation of a monopoly. The formation of a monopoly for the purpose of suppressing trade or commerce is unlawful, both at common law (Richardson v. Buhl, 77 Mich. 632, 43 N. W. 1102, 6 L. R. A. 457; Hunt v. Riverside Co-operative Club, 140 Mich. 518, 104 N. W. 40, 112 Am. St. Rep. 420; Chesapeake & Ohio Fuel Co. v. U. S., 115 Fed. 610, 53 C. C. A. 256), and under both the federal and state anti-trust laws. The federal act provides that every combination in restraint of trade or commerce is illegal. Act July 2, 1890, c. 647, 26 Stat. 209 [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3200]. As said by Judge (now Justice) Day, in Chesapeake & Ohio Fuel Co. v. U. S., 115 Fed. 619, 53 C. C. A. 265: “All contracts and combinations are declared illegal if in restraint of trade or commerce among the states.” Under the Michigan statute, a trust is a “combination of capital, skill or arts by two or more persons, firms, partnerships, corporations or associations of persons,

(3) to prevent competition in manufacturing, making, transportation, sale or purchase of merchandise, produce or any commodity,” and it is declared to be unlawful, against public policy, and void for two or more persons or corporations to “pool, combine, or directly or indirectly unite any interests that they may have connected with the sale or transportation of any such article or commodity, that its price might in any manner be affected.” Pub. Acts Mich. 1899, p. 409, No. 255. The supplementary and declaratory act of 1905 provides that:

"All combinations of persons, partnerships or corporations made or entered into for the purpose and with the intent of establishing and maintaining, or of attempting to establish or maintain, a monopoly of any trade, pursuit, avocation, profession or business, are hereby declared to be against public policy, illegal and void.” Pub. Acts Mich. 1905, p. 507, No. 329.

It is not necessary under either the federal or state statutes that a complete monopoly be effected. It is sufficient if it tends to that end, and to deprive the public of the advantages which flow from free competition. U. S. v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U. S. 16, 15 Sup. Ct. 249, 39 L. Ed. 325; Northern Securities Co. v. U. S., 193 U. S. 332, 24 Sup. Ct. 436, 48 L. Ed. 679; Hunt v. Riverside Co-operative Club, 140 Mich. 547, 104 N. W. 40, 112 Am. St. Rep. 420. The abovequoted language of both the federal and state statutes is in terms broad enough to cover any means purposely adopted for, and manifestly adapted to, the accomplishment of the unlawful purposes. It seems clear that, under the decision in Northern Securities Co. v. U. S., 193 U. S. 197, 24 Sup. Ct. 436, 48 L. Ed. 679, the creation of a monopoly by way of stock purchase and control offends against the statute. In that case, at page 331 of 193 U. S., and page 454 of 24 Sup. Ct. [48 L. Ed. 679], it is said:

"It (the Sherman anti-trust act) does embrace and declare to be illegal every contract, combination, or conspiracy, in whatever form, of whatever nature, and whoever may be the parties to it, which directly or necessarily operates in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states, or with foreign nations."

The distinction recognized in Davis v. A. Booth & Co., 131 Fed. 31, 65 C. C. A. 269, and in Northern Securities Co. v. U. S., between cases of outright purchase of the entire property of the absorbed company,

and cases of combination of owners and property under one management, where each owner's interest is continued in the combination, would seem to place a combination by way of stock purchase and stock proxies within the prohibition of the statute. In the late case of Dunbar v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 79 N. E. 427, 224 Ill. 9, the Supreme Court of Illinois has directly held that, where a corporation purchased the majority of the stock of another corporation, it is sufficient to condemn the transaction as unlawful, if its tendency is to restrain competition. This principle is impliedly recognized in Clark & Marshall on Private Corporations, § 652 (14). Nor can the fact that the alleged monopoly is proposed to be effected in part by the holding of proxies relieve an otherwise unlawful transaction of its unlawful character. If the object of obtaining the proxies was, as alleged, to create a monopoly, it is within the manifest prohibition of the law. The identity of the two corporations is maintained, and the combination is as effective as if a lease of the corporate property had been given.

The fact that the Michigan mining statute of 1905 gave the Calumet & Hecla Company power to purchase and own stocks in other mining corporations is invoked as making lawful the monopolistic control obtained through such purchase. The proposition is, in other words, that the Michigan statute gives the right to do the act complained of. Pub. Acts Mich. 1905, p. 153, No. 105. But this statute must be read in connection with the avowed policy of the state as expressed by its statutes. Distilling & Cattle Feeding Co. v. People, 156 Ill. 491, 41 N. E. 188, 47 Am. St. Rep. 200. When the amendment above referred to was passed, the statute of 1899, above referred to, was in force. The same Legislature which passed the mining amendment of 1905 later passed Act No. 329, p. 508, Acts 1905, "supplementary to, and declaratory of,” the anti-monopoly act of 1899, containing the express provision before quoted, and in addition thereto exceptionally drastic provisions designed to prevent monopolies, total or partial, by whatever means accomplished. The result of these two statutes is that power was given to the Calumet & Hecla Company to purchase stock in the Osceola Company, but the right to exercise that power in violation of the anti-monopoly statutes of the state was not given. For the reasons stated, the conclusion reached is that the bill sufficiently alleges an unlawful combination.

2. The question whether a bill for injunctive relief can be maintained under the federal anti-trust act at the instance of a private party is not free from difficulty. It is strenuously contended that under neither the federal anti-trust act nor the state act can relief by way of injunction be granted to a private party; that section 4 of the federal act, which provides for injunctive relief, is expressly limited to suits brought at the instance of the Attorney General; and that section 7 of the federal act, giving to an injured party a right of action at law for treble damages, considered in connection with section 4 referred to, by necessary implication excludes the right of a private party to maintain any suit except that for treble damages under section 7, regardless of the general equitable jurisdiction of the court. Some of the cases cited affirm this contention. Others of them, in my judgment, do not, but, on the contrary, recognize the rule that the prohibition against injunctive relief under the federal act is limited to suits brought for injuries common to the general public, and that under the general jurisdiction of equity relief may be granted to a private party against violations of the anti-trust act.

In Blindell v. Hagan (C. C.) 54 Fed. 40, and Id., 56 Fed. 696, 6 C. C. A. 86, relief was asked, first, under the federal anti-trust act; and, second, under the general equity jurisdiction of the court. The district judge held that no one but the Attorney General could file a bill under the anti-trust act, but that, as the court had jurisdiction of the case by reason of diverse citizenship of the parties, it could grant relief upon the grounds of inadequacy of legal remedy and the prevention of multiplicity of suits. The relief granted was given none the less on account of the unlawful combination in restraint of trade.

In Pidcock v. Harrington (C. C.) 64 Fed. 821, complainant expressly disclaimed any right to relief under the general equity principles of the common law, and planted himself solely on the Sherman act. The district judge sustained a demurrer to the bill. The decision was not reviewed. It does not appear that there was diverse citizenship of the parties, and thus that the court would have had jurisdiction of the case but for the federal question.

In Gulf, C. & S. F. Ry. Co. v. Miami S. S. Co., 86 Fed. 407, 30.C. C. A. 142, it was held that no case was stated under either the federal anti-trust act or the common law; but it was said:

“We do not doubt the general jurisdiction of the Circuit Court as a court of equity to afford preventive relief, in a proper case, against threatened injury about to result to an individual, for any unlawful agreement, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade."

In So. Ind. Exp. Co. v. U. S. Exp. Co. (C. C.) 88 Fed. 659, and Id., 92 Fed. 1022, 35 C. C. A. 172, heard on demurrer to bill, the acts complained of were entirely lawful unless by reason of the federal antitrust act. It was held that under that law a private party could not obtain relief by bill in equity. It does not appear that the court had jurisdiction by reason of diverse citizenship.

In Metcalf v. American School Furn. Co. (C. C.) 108 Fed. 909, and Id., 113 Fed. 1020, 51 C. C. A. 599, heard on motion for temporary injunction and on demurrer to the bill, complainant sought, first, relief against the monopoly created by the absorption of the Buffalo Company by the American School Furniture Company, and, second, the assessment and collection in the equity suit of the treble damages given by the seventh section of the federal anti-trust act. The district judge held that these damages were recoverable only in an action at law for the sole benefit of the complainant, while the equitable relief was for the benefit of all interested in the corporation, and that the bill was thus multifarious. The right to equitable relief was not, however, denied, but expressly affirmed. After the bill had been amended by eliminating the demand for treble damages, and upon hearing upon demurrers and pleas to the amended bill ([C. C.] 122 Fed. 115), the district judge held that the bill presented no case except under the federal anti-trust law, and that under that law suit for injunctive relief could be brought only at the instance of the Attorney General. . This decision has not been reviewed.

While the decisions referred to are entitled to great respect, they do not commend themselves to my judgment so far as they deny the right of a private party, who has sustained special injury by the violation of the anti-trust act, to relief by injunction under the general equity jurisdiction of the court. As already seen, the cases referred to do not generally announce such rule.

The case of Minnesota v. Northern Securities Co., 194 U. S. 48, 70, 72, 24 Sup. Ct. 598, 48 L. Ed. 870, does not, to my mind, assert the rule contended for by defendant. On the contrary, it seems to recognize by implication a contrary rule. In that case, which was decided since the decisions in all the cases referred to above, the state sought relief under both the Minnesota statute and the federal anti-trust act. It was held that relief could not be given under the Minnesota statute for lack of diverse citizenship of the parties, nor under the federal statute because the injury alleged to have been sustained by the state was not direct or special, but only "remote and indirect; such an injury as would come alike, although in different degrees, to every individual owner of property in a state by reason of the suppression, in violation of the act of Congress, of free competition between interstate carriers engaged in business in such state; not such a direct, actual injury as that provided for in the seventh section of the statute.' It was accordingly merely held (so far as right to relief under the federal anti-trust act is concerned) that the intention of the statute was “to limit direct proceedings in equity to prevent and restrain such violations of the anti-trust act as cause injury to the general public, or to all alike, merely from the suppression of competition in trade and commerce among the several states and with foreign nations, to those instituted in the name of the United States under the fourth section of the act, by district attorneys of the United States, acting under the direction of the Attorney General."

I cannot overlook the fact that the federal anti-trust act is highly remedial. Its apparent object is not to restrict, but to extend, remedies. The seventh section gives the Circuit Courts jurisdiction without respect to the amount in controversy, allows threefold damages and the costs of suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee. The very penal provisions invoked by defendant's counsel as requiring a strict construction of the act are but evidence of the highly remedial nature of the statute, and I am loath to conclude that a statute of this nature should be construed as taking away the otherwise existing jurisdiction of equity to afford relief. In this case jurisdiction is conferred by the diverse citizenship of the parties.

The case of In re Lennon, 166 U. S. 548, 17 Sup. Ct. 658, 41 L. Ed. 1110, is not without pertinency. It was there held (under habeas corpus proceedings alleging lack of jurisdiction) that a bill in equity was properly filed by one railroad company against other railroad companies under the interstate commerce act of February 4, 1887, c. 104, 24 Stat. 379 [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3154], to restrain the refusal to afford equal facilities to the connecting line, as exhibiting a case arising under the laws of the United States, namely, the interstate commerce act. The court there said (page 554 of 166 U. S. and page 660 of 17 Sup. Ct. [41 L. Ed. 1110]):

“Cases arising under the laws of the United States are such as grow out of the legislation of Congress, whether they constitute the right or privilege, or claim, or protection, or defense of the party, in whole or in part, by whom they are asserted."

It is noticeable that the act there in question expressly provided for relief to the injured person either by suit against the offending carrier or through complaint to the commission (sections 8 and 9), but not for injunction, except under circumstances not existing, and by methods not employed in the suit in question.

The bill alleges that the complainant's remedy at law is inadequate, and it may well be. It is fairly inferable from the case presented that, if the control of the Osceola Company by the Calumet & Hecla Company is had, a complete revolution in the management and in the method of operation of the former company will take place. To prove damages as resulting from such a combination, in view of the complete change of methods intended, and under an entirely new management, may well be difficult. The reasons for such difficulty seem too apparent to require elaboration. The Michigan statute, however (Pub. Acts Mich. 1899, p. 409, No. 255), contains no express provision for injunction suits by the district attorney or prosecuting attorneys, although "for a violation of any of the provisions of the act” it authorizes the institution of "proper suits or quo warranto proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction,” which is recognized as giving authority to maintain injunction suits to restrain violations of the anti-trust law. Hunt v. Riverside Co-operative Club, supra. It is therefore not necessarily subject to the same considerations as the federal statute.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »