Brief Fact Summary.
Two companies sued over 20 other companies alleging conspiracy in violation of the Sherman Act. Defendant’s motion for summary judgement is granted and the plaintiff appeals.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
To survive a motion for summary judgement
A motion filed by a party for the court to make a determination without a full trial. Is granted if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court considers the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
a plaintiff seeking damages for a violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act must present evidence that tends to exclude the possibility that the alleged conspirators acted independently.
Thus, the purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.View Full Point of Law
Plaintiffs represented by Zenith are suing over 20 Japanese-owned companies represented by Defendant Matsushita for allegedly engaging in predatory pricing in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Plaintiff Zenith claims that Defendants conspired to sell their products at extremely low prices, at a loss to Defendants, in order to run American manufacturers of the same goods out of business and thereafter gain a monopoly over the American market. The district court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgement and Plaintiff Zenith appealed. The court of appeals reversed, finding that a factfinder could have inferred that the Defendants were part of a conspiracy to lower prices in the American market to drive American companies out. The Defendants appealed to the United States Supreme Court which granted certiorari.
Yes, to survive a motion for summary judgement a plaintiff seeking damages for a violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act must present evidence that tends to exclude the possibility that the alleged conspirators acted independently. The decision of the court of appeals is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings.
Justice Justice White joined by Justices Brennan, Blackmun, and Stevens dissenting
The majority ignores the conclusion in Plaintiff Zenith’s expert DePodwin’s report. The report suggests that the Defendants entered into an agreement to prevent competition in the American market. The report also suggests that because of the inflated prices in Japan, Defendants exported more products to America than normal, consequently decreasing Plaintiffs’ sales. This report creates a genuine issue for trial.