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SHAWNEE COMPRESS COMPANY v. ANDERSON

April 13, 1908

SHAWNEE COMPRESS COMPANY
v.
ANDERSON



APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY OF OKLAHOMA

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Moody

Author: Mckenna

[ 209 U.S. Page 429]

 MR. JUSTICE McKENNA, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

The Supreme Court of the Territory, in its opinion, discussed only two of the questions urged upon its consideration, to wit (1) the legal power of the Shawnee Compress Company to execute the lease; and (2) the purpose in its execution to secure a monopoly of the business of compressing cotton and to unlawfully restrict competition. Of the first the court said: "We find no express authority to lease set out in the articles of incorporation, but we are nevertheless of the opinion the weight of authority is that when a strictly private corporation finds it cannot profitably continue operations it may lawfully make a lease of its entire property for a term of years."

[ 209 U.S. Page 430]

     The court cited cases, and continued (p. 238): "It is only when such exigencies exist as necessitate or render appropriate such or similar action that the right can be exercised." And it was observed that while there was no special finding of fact "in that regard by the trial court, yet this feature must necessarily have been considered, in the light of the evidence introduced at the trial, and the judgment based thereon."

The court further said that it found "ample authority in the record for that action" and, following the rule "often reiterated," the court further said, "it must hold that where the record contains some evidence to support the finding of the trial court," the judgment will not be disturbed.

The ruling sustaining the power of the Shawnee Company to execute the lease is attacked by appellees, but we do not find it necessary to express an opinion upon it, on account of the view we entertain of the second proposition.

In passing on the second proposition the Supreme Court decided adversely to the view taken by the trial court. The court therefore must either have considered that there was not some evidence supporting the conclusions of fact of the trial court or must have deemed the principles of law which the trial court upheld were not sustained by its conclusion of fact. As our review, in the nature of things, is confined to determining whether the court below erred, it follows that our reviewing power under the circumstances is coincident with the authority to review possessed by the court below, and therefore we are confined, as was the court below, to determining whether there was some evidence supporting the findings and whether the facts found were adequate to sustain the legal conclusions. Southern Pine Lumber Co. v. Ward, 208 U.S. 126.

The court, in its opinion, gives a summary of the pleadings and states the salient points of the lease to be that it conveys all of the property of the Shawnee Company to the Gulf Company, that the Shawnee Company covenants that it will not "directly or indirectly engage in the compressing of cotton

[ 209 U.S. Page 431]

     within fifty miles of any plant operated by the" Gulf Company, and that the Shawnee Company "agrees and pledges" to the Gulf Company "its good will, moral and legal support, and that it, individually and collectively, will render the 'Gulf Company' every assistance in discouraging unreasonable and unnecessary competition." And from the evidence the court deduces the following conclusions (p. 236):

"It further appears from the evidence at the trial that C. C. Hanson is the president of both the Atlanta Compress Company and the Gulf Compress Company, being a stockholder in each, and is the one who negotiated the lease in question. That the Atlanta Compress Company operates in the States of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and was organized and is owned and controlled solely by the carriers for their benefit. That the board of directors and stockholders of said corporation are composed entirely of railroad officials. That the Atlanta Company controls the operation of twenty-five plants. That the Gulf Compress Company is a close corporation, chartered in Mobile, Alabama, and operating in the States of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indian Territory and Oklahoma, and ...


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