352 U.S. 992 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court


352 U.S. 992

Charles LAWLOR and Mitchell Pantzer, Co-Partners, Trading as Independent Poster Exchange, Petitioners,
No. 632.

Supreme Court of the United States

February 25, 1957

Mr. Francis T. Anderson, for petitioners.

Mr. Louis Nizer, for respondent.


We agree with the Court of Appeals that the motion for summary judgment should have been denied. However, in our view, this disposition of the case made it unnecessary for the Court of Appeals to pass on any other issue than that of the per se invalidity of exclusive contracts under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C.A. 1-7, 15 note. In order that the District Court not be bound by the consideration the Court of Appeals gave to the remaining issues, and without reaching any of the same, we grant the petition for writ of certiorari, vacate the judgments, and remand the cause to the District Court for trial.

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER, whom Mr. Justice BURTON and Mr. Justice HARLAN join, dissenting.

The District Court granted the motion of plaintiffs, the petitioners here, for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals, having found that summary judgment was not warranted, remanded the case for '(t)rial of the disputed factual issues.' 238 F.2d 59, 68. This Court also holds that the motion for summary judgment should have been denied by the District Court: it grants certiorari and vacates the judgment of the Court of Appeals, but directs the District Court to do precisely what the Court of Appeals directed that court to do. This is the legal situation unless I wholly misconceive the matter.

Since the Court's disposition of the petition for certiorari affects the proper administration of its own busi-

Page 352 U.S. 992 , 993

ness as well as the relation between this Court and Courts of Appeals, the matter deserves exposition.

The Court of Appeals thus stated what it called the critical issue before it: 'Was there, in the cases involved in these appeals (there were other cases affecting other parties), a genuine issue as to a material fact which, under well-settled principles, precluded the entry of summary judgments adjudicating the defendant-appellant, National Screen Service Corporation ('National') to be an unlawful monopoly?' 238 F.2d at pages 60- 61. Having found that there were triable issues of fact, it concluded that summary judgment should not have been entered and sent the case back for trial. This Court now echoes these conclusions: the motion for summary judgment should have been denied and the plaintiffs must establish their claim at trial.

The explanation of the puzzle must lie in the statement that this Court is doing what it is doing '(i)n order that the District Court not be bound by the consideration the Court of Appeals gave to the remaining issues. ...' This is an oblique concern about the so-called 'law of the case.' The only 'law of the case' decided by the Court of Appeals is the legal issue on which this Court agrees with the Court of Appeals. Nowhere is there a suggestion in the petition for certiorari that when the case goes back to the District Court, the trial will be restricted in determining the facts relevant to a claim under the antitrust laws. ( Indeed, petitioners' only suggestion that the new trial directed by the Court of Appeals will not leave all relevant issues open for trial is that the Court of Appeals indicated that some issues 'require determination by the trier of facts,' while the petitioners suggest that these are issues to be determined by the trial court as a matter of law.) [352 U.S. 992 , 994]

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