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U.S. Supreme Court

Perkins v. Standard Oil of California, 395 U.S. 642 (1969)

Perkins v. Standard Oil of California

No. 624

Argued April 22-23, 1969

Decided June 16, 1969

395 U.S. 642


Petitioner, an independent wholesale and retail distributor of gasoline and oil, brought this treble damage action against his supplier, Standard Oil Co., alleging injuries resulting from respondent's price discriminations in violation of § 2(a) of the Clayton Act, as amended by the Robinson-Patman Act. The evidence showed that, for over two years, Standard's charges to petitioner were higher than those to (1) its Branded Dealers who competed with petitioner, and (2) Signal, a wholesaler, whose gas was sold to a subsidiary (Western Hyway), which, in turn, sold to Western's subsidiary (Regal), a major competitor of petitioner, the lower price being passed on at each stage, so that Regal was able to undersell petitioner. The jury returned a verdict for petitioner. The Court of Appeals, while finding Standard's liability clear for favoring the Branded Dealers, held the "fourth level" injuries petitioner sustained from the impaired competition with Regal too far removed from respondent to come within the Act. Since the jury's verdict did not disclose what amount of the damages awarded was attributable to Regal's conduct, the court ordered a new trial. That court, for the trial judge's guidance on retrial, also noted that any financial losses to petitioner from the inability of two of his corporations to pay him agreed brokerage fees for securing gasoline, for rental on leases of service stations, and for other indebtedness were too incidental to support recovery under the antitrust laws.


1. Section 2(a) of the Clayton Act, as amended by the Robinson-Patman Act, applies to respondent's price discriminations, which are not immunized from coverage under the statute simply because the product involved passed through additional formal exchanges before reaching petitioner's actual competitor. Cf. FTC v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 390 U. S. 341. Pp. 395 U. S. 646-648.

2. The evidence was sufficient to show a causal connection between Standard's price discrimination and the damage to petitioner's business. Pp. 395 U. S. 648-649.

Page 395 U. S. 643

3. Since petitioner was the principal victim of Standard's price discrimination, and not just an innocent bystander, he was entitled to present evidence of all his losses to the jury. Pp. 395 U. S. 649-650.

396 F.2d 809, reversed and case remanded to District Court for reinstatement of verdict and judgment.

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