SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
THEATRE ENTERPRISES, INC. v. PARAMOUNT FILM DISTRIBUTING CORP. ET AL.
346 U.S. 537
No. 19. Argued November 30, December 1, 1953 -- Decided January 4, 1954
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.
Petitioner brought suit in a Federal District Court under the Clayton Act for treble damages and an injunction, alleging that respondent motion picture producers and distributors had violated the anti-trust laws by conspiring to restrict "first-run" pictures to downtown Baltimore theatres, thus confining petitioner's suburban theatre to subsequent runs and unreasonable "clearances." There was no direct evidence of illegal agreement between respondents; and the jury returned a general verdict for respondents.
1. Upon the evidence in the case, the trial judge properly refused to direct a verdict for petitioner and properly submitted the issue of conspiracy to the jury. Pp. 539-542.
(a) Proof of parallel business behavior does not conclusively establish agreement, nor does such behavior itself constitute a Sherman Act offense. Pp. 540-541.
(b) The decrees in United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 U.S. 131, alone or in conjunction with petitioner's other proof, formed no basis for a directed verdict for petitioner, since those decrees were only prima facie evidence of a conspiracy covering the area and existing during the period there involved, and since petitioner's allegation of conspiracy was factually contested. Pp. 541-542.
2. In his instructions to the jury, the trial judge did not fail to give sufficient weight to the decrees in the Paramount case. Pp. 542-544.
(a) The instructions in this connection were not so superficial and so limited as to deprive petitioner of any of the benefits conferred upon it by § 5 of the Clayton Act. Pp. 542-543.
(b) It was not error for the trial judge to instruct the jury, in effect, that the Paramount decrees alone could not support a recovery by petitioner and that additional evidence was required to relate the prior Paramount conspiracy to Baltimore and to the claimed damage period. Pp. 543-544.
201 F.2d 306, affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK would reverse, being of opinion that the trial judge's charge to the jury as to the burden of proof resting on petitioner deprived it of a large part of the benefits intended to be afforded by the prima facie evidence provision of § 5 of the Clayton Act.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS withdrew from the case after its submission and took no part in this decision.