WHITE MOTOR CO. V. UNITED STATES, 372 U. S. 253 (1963)

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U.S. Supreme Court

White Motor Co. v. United States, 372 U.S. 253 (1963)

White Motor Co. v. United States

No. 54

Argued January 14-15, 1963

Decided March 4, 1963

372 U.S. 253


The United States brought this civil suit to restrain alleged violations of the Sherman Act by appellant, a manufacturer of trucks, and moved for a summary judgment, contending that appellant's franchise contracts constituted per se violations of §§1 and 3. Such contracts restricted the geographic areas within which distributors and dealers were permitted to sell trucks and parts, restricted the persons to whom distributors and dealers were permitted to sell trucks for resale, precluded distributors and dealers from selling trucks to any federal or state government or subdivision thereof and other large customers without permission of appellant, fixed the resale price for trucks and parts sold by distributors to dealers for retail sale, and fixed the retail price of parts and accessories sold by distributors and dealers to certain designated customers. Appellant did not file any affidavit denying the Government's allegations; but it did file a brief containing allegations of fact, denying that its agreements were illegal, and contending that it should be allowed to present, at trial, evidence of the reasonableness of its contracts when considered in their own unique business and economic context. The District Court granted summary judgment for the Government. Appellant appealed directly to this Court from all but the price-fixing aspects of the judgment.

Held: Apart from the price-fixing aspects of the case, summary judgment was improperly granted, and the legality of the territorial and customer limitations of appellant's franchise contracts should be determined only after a trial. Pp. 372 U. S. 254-264.

(a) Summary judgments have a place in the antitrust field, but they are not appropriate "where motive and intent play leading roles." Poller v. Columbia Broadcasting System, 368 U. S. 464. Pp. 372 U. S. 259-261.

(b) This is the first case involving a territorial restriction in a vertical arrangement; and this Court knows too little of the actual impact of that restriction and the one respecting customers to reach a conclusion on the bare bones of the documentary evidence before it. Pp. 372 U. S. 261-264.

194 F. Supp. 562, reversed.

Page 372 U. S. 254

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