Cargill v. Monfort
479 U.S. 104

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cargill v. Monfort, 479 U.S. 104 (1986)

Cargill, Inc. v. Monfort of Colorado, Inc.

No. 85-473

Argued Oct. 6, 1986

Decided Dec. 9, 1986

479 U.S. 104

Syllabus

Section 16 of the Clayton Act entitles a private party to sue for injunctive relief against "threatened loss or damage by a violation of the antitrust laws." Respondent, the country's fifth-largest beef packer, brought an action in Federal District Court under § 16 to enjoin the proposed merger of petitioner Excel Corporation, the second-largest packer, and Spencer Beef, the third-largest packer. Respondent alleged that it was threatened with a loss of profits by the possibility that Excel, after the merger, would lower its prices to a level at or above its costs in an attempt to increase its market share. During trial, Excel moved for dismissal on the ground that respondent had failed to allege or show that it would suffer antitrust injury, but the District Court denied the motion. After trial, the District Court held that respondent's allegation of a "price-cost squeeze" that would severely narrow its profit margins constituted an allegation of antitrust injury. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that respondent's allegation of a "price-cost squeeze" was not simply one of injury from competition, but was a claim of injury by a form of predatory pricing in which Excel would drive other companies out of the market.

Held:

1. A private plaintiff seeking injunctive relief under § 16 must show a threat of injury "of the type the antitrust laws were designed to prevent and that flows from that which makes defendants' acts unlawful." Brunswick Corp. v. Pueblo Bowl-O-Mat, Inc.,429 U. S. 477, 429 U. S. 489. Pp. 479 U. S. 109-113.

2. The proposed merger does not constitute a threat of antitrust injury. A showing, as in this case, of loss or damage due merely to increased competition does not constitute such injury. And while predatory pricing is capable of inflicting antitrust injury, here respondent neither raised nor proved any claim of predatory pricing before the District Court, and thus the Court of Appeals erred in interpreting respondent's allegations as equivalent to allegations of injury from predatory conduct. Pp. 479 U. S. 113-119.

3. This Court, however, will not adopt in effect a per se rule denying competitors standing to challenge acquisitions on the basis of predatory

Page 479 U. S. 105

pricing theories. Nothing in the Clayton Act's language or legislative history suggests that Congress intended this Court to ignore injuries caused by such anticompetitive practices as predatory pricing. Pp. 479 U. S. 120-122.

761 F.2d 570, reversed and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and MARSHALL, POWELL, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE, J., joined, post, p. 479 U. S. 122. BLACKMUN, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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