Continental Ore Co. v. Union Carbide Corp.
370 U.S. 690 (1962)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Continental Ore Co. v. Union Carbide Corp., 370 U.S. 690 (1962)

Continental Ore Co. v. Union Carbide & Carbon Corp.

No. 304

Argued April 16-17, 1962

Decided June 25, 1962

370 U.S. 690

Syllabus

Petitioners sued respondents under § 4 of the Clayton Act to recover treble damages, alleging that respondents had violated §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to restrain, by monopolizing, and by attempting and conspiring to monopolize, trade and commerce in ferrovanadium and vanadium oxide. The jury brought in a verdict for respondents, and petitioners appealed, contending that the District Court erred in excluding various items of evidence, in giving certain instructions to the jury, in refusing to give other instructions, and in other rulings. The Court of Appeals held that there was insufficient evidence to justify a jury's finding that respondents' illegal acts were the cause of petitioners' failure in the vanadium business and that, therefore, a verdict should have been directed for respondents.

Held: the judgment is vacated and the case is remanded for a new trial. Pp. 370 U. S. 691-710.

1. In concluding that there should have been a directed verdict for respondents, the Court of Appeals erred in failing to view the evidence in the light most favorable to petitioners and to give petitioners the benefit of all inferences which the evidence fairly supported, and it erred in holding that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that respondents' conduct in fact caused injury to petitioners' business. It was the jury's function to weigh the evidence and the inferences to be drawn therefrom, and to come to an ultimate conclusion as to the facts. Pp. 370 U. S. 696-702.

2. The District Court erred in rejecting petitioners' offer to prove that they had been excluded from the Canadian market by a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the respondents, which was acting as the exclusive purchasing agent for the wartime Office of Metals Controller of the Canadian Government, but which allegedly operated in this connection under the control and direction of its parent corporation for the purpose of carrying out the overall conspiracy to restrain and monopolize the vanadium industry in the United States. This offer of proof was relevant evidence of a violation of the Sherman Act charged in the complaint, and it was not inadmissible on the ground that the subsidiary corporation was acting as an arm of the Canadian Government. Pp. 370 U. S. 702-708.

Page 370 U. S. 691

3. The District Court committed several trial errors which should not be repeated in a new trial. Pp. 370 U. S. 708-710.

(a) The District Court erred in charging the jury that, in the context of the facts alleged in this case, a conspiracy must be proved "which was reasonably calculated to prejudice the public interest by unduly" restraining trade and which was intended "to injure the general public by" restraining trade. P. 370 U. S. 708.

(b) The District Court misinterpreted the law in defining "monopolization" and "attempted monopolization" in terms of "conspiracy to monopolize," and this error was prejudicial, rather than harmless. Pp. 370 U. S. 708-709.

(c) The District Court erred in its persistent exclusion of evidence relating to the period before petitioners' entrance into the industry, since this evidence was clearly material to petitioners' charge that there was a conspiracy and monopolization in existence when they came into the industry, and that they were eliminated in furtherance thereof. Pp. 370 U. S. 709-710.

289 F. 2d 86, judgment vacated and case remanded for new trial.

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