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D. R. WILDER MANUFACTURING COMPANY v. CORN PRODUCTS REFINING COMPANY

February 23, 1915

D. R. WILDER MANUFACTURING COMPANY
v.
CORN PRODUCTS REFINING COMPANY



ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney, McReynolds

Author: White

[ 236 U.S. Page 169]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

We refer to the parties, the one as the Manufacturing, and the other as the Refining Company. Sued by the Refining Company in April, 1909, to recover the amount of the price of two lots of glucose or corn syrup which it had bought in January, 1909, and which it had consumed and not paid for, the Manufacturing Company asserted its non-liability on the following grounds which we summarize:

(a) Because the Refining Company had no legal existence as it was a combination composed of all the manufacturers of glucose or corn syrup in the United States, illegally organized with the object of monopolizing all dealings in such products in violation of the Anti-Trust Act of Congress. That having illegally brought into one organization all the manufacturers of glucose or corn syrup, the corporation had unreasonably advanced the price of the products of its manufacture to the injury of the public. (b) That this end being accomplished, the corporation sought to perpetuate its monopoly by rendering it difficult or impossible for competitors to go into the business of producing glucose or corn syrup by devising a so-called profit-sharing scheme, by which it was proposed to give to all those who purchased from the combination a stipulated percentage upon the amount of the purchases made in one year to be paid at the end of the following year provided that during such time they dealt with no one else but the combination. While the sum of the percentage thus offered, it was alleged, varied from year to year, nevertheless it was charged that in substance the contract or offer remained the same. The tender to

[ 236 U.S. Page 170]

     the Manufacturing Company of a right to participate in the scheme, it was alleged, was first made in 1907 relative to the business done in 1906 in the form of a letter which is in the margin*fn1 and this offer or asserted contract was continued from year to year. It was further alleged that the scheme proved successful in accomplishing its wrongful purpose since, although subsequently independent concerns engaged in the business of manufacturing glucose or corn syrup and offered to sell their products at prices less than those charged by the combination, such concerns were virtually driven out of business because those who desired to purchase the products were deterred from buying from them for fear of losing the percentage which they would receive from the combination if all their purchases

[ 236 U.S. Page 171]

     continued to be made from it alone, and moreover because of the dread felt by purchasers that the independents would not be able to resist the overweening and controlling power of the combination. It was moreover alleged that all purchases made by the manufacturing company "contained the following clause in the contract of purchase: 'The goods herein sold are for your own consumption and not for resale.'"

Charging that the condition which made the payment of the proposed profit-sharing percentage depend upon dealing alone with the combination was void and should be disregarded, the answer asked not only that the prayer for judgment for the purchase price be rejected but that treating the failure of the Manufacturing Company to comply with the condition on which the offer of profit sharing was made as immaterial, there should be a judgment for that company for the percentage of profits on the business for the year 1908.

On motion the answer was stricken out as stating no defense. There was a judgment in the absence of further pleading against the Manufacturing Company for the price of the goods, as sued for, and rejecting its claim for the percentage of profits. This judgment was affirmed by the court below (11 Ga. App. 588) and because of an assumed failure to give effect to the Anti-Trust Act of Congress this writ of error was prosecuted.

As the context of the answer clearly justified the inference that the sale of the glucose was an interstate transaction, the court below was right in assuming that to be the case and therefore we put out of view as devoid of merit the contrary suggestion made by the Refining Company.

Having dealt with the Refining Company as an existing concern possessing the capacity to sell, speaking generally the assertion that it had no legal existence because it was an ...


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