United States v. Oregon State Med. Soc'y - 343 U.S. 326 (1952)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Oregon State Med. Soc'y, 343 U.S. 326 (1952)
United States v. Oregon State Medical Society
Argued January 4, 7, 1952
Decided April 28, 1952
343 U.S. 326
Seeking to restrain alleged violations of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, the United States brought this suit against the Oregon State Medical Society, eight county medical societies, a doctor-sponsored corporation engaged in the sale of prepaid medical care, and eight doctors who were officers of those organizations. The complaint charged that they conspired to restrain and monopolize the business of providing prepaid medical care in Oregon and conspired to restrain competition between doctor-sponsored prepaid medical plans within the State. After a trial, the District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the Government had failed to prove its charges.
Held: The judgment is affirmed. Pp. 343 U. S. 328-340.
2.Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that, where an action is tried by a court without a jury,
"findings of fact shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous, and due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge of the credibility of witnesses,"
is peculiarly applicable in a case, such as this, where the complaining party creates a vast record of cumulative evidence as to long-past transactions, motives and purposes, the effect of which depends largely on credibility of witnesses. P. 343 U. S. 332.
3. In an action under the Sherman Act for an injunction, the sole function of which is to forestall future violations, an examination of evidence relating to long-past transactions is justified only when it illuminates or explains the present and predicts the shape of things to come. Pp. 343 U. S. 332-333.
4. Conduct which had been discontinued seven years previously, in the absence of a threat or likelihood of its resumption, does not warrant the issuance of an injunction. Pp. 343 U. S. 332-334.
5. The Government having failed to prove a concerted refusal by the defendant doctors to deal with private health associations, it is unnecessary here to decide whether that would violate the antitrust laws. Pp. 343 U. S. 334-336.
(a) Where the historic direct relationship between physician and patient is involved, there are ethical considerations which are quite different from the usual considerations prevailing in ordinary commercial matters. P. 343 U. S. 336.
6. The trial court's refusal to find that the defendants had conspired to restrain or monopolize the business of prepaid medical care was not clearly erroneous. Pp. 343 U. S. 336-337.
7. The trial court's finding that the sale of medical services by the doctor-sponsored organizations, as conducted in Oregon, did not constitute interstate commerce was not clearly erroneous, and the agreement between them not to compete did not fall within the prohibitions of the Sherman Act. American Medical Assn. v. United States, 317 U. S. 519, distinguished. Pp. 343 U. S. 337-339.
8. A finding which, in the light of the record, does not leave the reviewing court with any "definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed" is not "clearly erroneous." P. 343 U. S. 339.
95 F.Supp. 103 affirmed.
In a suit by the United States to restrain alleged violations of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the District Court, after a trial, dismissed the complaint on the ground that the Government had failed to prove its charges. 95 F.Supp. 103. The United States appealed directly to this Court under the Expediting Act. Affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 340.