United States v. Wise
370 U.S. 405 (1962)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Wise, 370 U.S. 405 (1962)

United States v. Wise

No. 488

Argued April 16, 1962

Decided June 25, 1962

370 U.S. 405

Syllabus

A grand jury indicted appellee and a corporation of which he was an officer for engaging in a combination and conspiracy to eliminate price competition in the sale of milk in the Kansas City area, in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act. In a bill of particulars, the Government charged that appellee had been acting "solely in his capacity as an officer, director, or agent who authorized, ordered, or did" some of the acts constituting a violation. The District Court dismissed the indictment as to appellee, on the ground that § 1 of the Sherman Act does not apply to corporate officers acting in a representative capacity.

Held: a corporate officer is subject to prosecution under § 1 of the Sherman Act whenever he knowingly participates in effecting an illegal contract, combination or conspiracy -- be he one who authorizes, orders or helps to perpetrate the crime -- regardless of whether he is acting in a representative capacity. Pp. 370 U. S. 406-416.

(a) An officer of a corporation acting solely in his representative capacity is a "person" within the meaning of § 1 of the Sherman Act, which imposes criminal sanctions upon "every person" who violates its provisions. Pp. 370 U. S. 407-408.

(b) A different conclusion is not required by § 8, which defines "person" to include "corporations and associations." Pp. 370 U. S. 408-411.

(c) A different conclusion is not required by § 14 of the Clayton Act or its legislative history. Pp. 370 U. S. 411-415.

(d) Nothing in the language or legislative history of the 1955 amendment to the Sherman Act, increasing the penalty for violation thereof from $5,000 to $50,000 without making a corresponding increase in the $5,000 penalty under the Clayton Act, indicates that Congress intended to restrict the applicability of the increased fine to corporations. P. 370 U. S. 415.

196 F.Supp. 155 reversed.

Page 370 U. S. 406

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