Texas Indus., Inc. v. Radcliff Materials, Inc.
Annotate this Case
451 U.S. 630 (1981)
U.S. Supreme Court
Texas Indus., Inc. v. Radcliff Materials, Inc., 451 U.S. 630 (1981)
Texas Industries, Inc. v. Radcliff Materials, Inc.
Argued March 3, 1981
Decided May 26, 1981
451 U.S. 630
Petitioner and respondents manufacture and sell ready-mix concrete. A purchaser of concrete from petitioner filed a civil action against petitioner in Federal District Court, alleging that petitioner and certain unnamed firms had conspired to raise concrete prices in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act, and seeking treble damages under § 4 of the Clayton Act. After learning through discovery that respondents were the alleged coconspirators, petitioner filed a third-party complaint against them, seeking contribution should it be held liable in the original action. The District Court dismissed the third-party complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, holding that federal law does not allow an antitrust defendant to recover in contribution from alleged coconspirators. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: There is no basis in federal statutory or common law for allowing federal courts to fashion the right to contribution urged by petitioner. Pp. 451 U. S. 634-647.
(a) Congress neither expressly nor implicitly intended to create such a right to contribution. Nothing in the Sherman and Clayton Acts or in their legislative history refers to contribution, and there is nothing to indicate any congressional concern with softening the blow on joint wrongdoers. Rather, the very idea of treble damages reveals an intent to punish past, and deter future, unlawful conduct, not to ameliorate the liability of joint wrongdoers. Pp. 451 U. S. 639-640.
(b) The federal courts are not empowered to fashion a federal common law rule of contribution among antitrust wrongdoers. Contribution does not implicate "uniquely federal interests" of the kind that oblige courts to formulate federal common law. Moreover, even though Congress may have intended to allow federal courts to develop governing principles of law in the common law tradition with regard to substantive violations of the Sherman Act, it does not follow that Congress intended to give courts as wide discretion in formulating remedies to enforce the Act or the kind of relief sought through contribution. There is nothing in the Act itself, in its legislative history, or in the overall
legislative scheme to suggest that Congress intended courts to have the power to alter or supplement the remedies enacted. Pp. 451 U. S. 640-646.
(c) Regardless of the merits of the conflicting arguments on the complex policy questions presented by petitioner's claimed right to contribution, this is a matter for Congress, not the courts to resolve. Pp. 451 U. S. 646-647.
604 F.2d 897, affirmed.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
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