United States v. National City Lines, Inc. - 334 U.S. 573 (1948)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. National City Lines, Inc., 334 U.S. 573 (1948)
United States v. National City Lines, Inc.
Argued April 28, 1948
Decided June 7, 1948
334 U.S. 573
1. Where a civil proceeding against a corporation under the antitrust laws is brought in any federal judicial district of those wherein such a suit is authorized to be brought by § 12 of the Clayton Act, the federal district court is without power to decline to exercise its jurisdiction by applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Pp. 334 U. S. 574-597.
2. The legislative history of § 12 of the Clayton Act clearly establishes that Congress intended to leave no room for judicial discretion to apply the doctrine of forum non conveniens to deprive the plaintiff of the choice of forum given by the section. Pp. 334 U. S. 582-588.
3. It being clear that the purpose of Congress was to confer upon the plaintiff in civil antitrust proceedings against corporations the right of choice among the specified venues, considerations of policy which might otherwise justify the exercise of judicial discretion in the matter become irrelevant. Pp. 334 U. S. 588-589.
4. The fact that, pursuant to Rule 21(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a criminal prosecution under the antitrust laws against the same corporate defendants has been transferred to another district from that in which the civil proceeding was brought, does not justify dismissal of the civil proceeding by applying the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Pp. 334 U. S. 593-596.
5. When Congress has vested courts with jurisdiction to hear and determine causes and has given complaining litigants the right of choice among them, inconsistent with the exercise of discretionary judicial power to defeat the choice made, the doctrine of forum non conveniens can have no effect. Pp. 334 U. S. 596-597.
6. Whether a statute has conferred upon a plaintiff a right of choice of venue is to be decided, upon consideration of all the relevant materials, by whether the legislative purpose and the effect of the language used to achieve it were to vest the power of choice in the plaintiff or to confer power upon the courts to qualify his selection. P. 334 U. S. 597.
7 F.R.D. 456 reversed.
The United States brought a civil proceeding against corporate defendants to enjoin alleged violations of the antitrust laws. The District Court dismissed the complaint upon the ground of forum non conveniens. 7 F.R.D. 456. A direct appeal was taken to this Court under the Expediting Act. Reversed, p. 334 U. S. 597.