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UNITED STATES v. YELLOW CAB CO. ET AL.

decided: December 5, 1949.

UNITED STATES
v.
YELLOW CAB CO. ET AL.



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS.

Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson, Burton, Minton, McGrath; Douglas and Clark took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Jackson

[ 338 U.S. Page 339]

 MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit in equity, under §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U. S. C. §§ 1 and 2, originally included three charges of violation: (1) conspiracy to restrain and monopolize transportation of interstate travelers by taxicab between Chicago railroad stations and their homes, offices and hotels; (2) conspiracy to eliminate competition for the business of transporting passengers between different Chicago railroad stations; and (3) conspiracy to restrain and monopolize the sale of taxicabs by control of the principal companies operating them in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. On a previous appeal this Court held the first of the charges not to state a case within the statute, and that charge no longer concerns us. United States v. Yellow Cab Co., 332 U.S. 218. The court below found that the Government failed to prove the second charge and no appeal is taken from that part of the judgment, so that charge has been eliminated. We have held that the residue of the complaint, embodying the third charge, alleges a cause of action within the statute, but only on the expressed assumption that the facts alleged are true, United States v. Yellow Cab Company, supra, at 224; but the trial court has found that the Government, at the trial, has failed on all the evidence to prove its case. 80 F.Supp. 936. The cause is before us by a direct appeal under the Expediting Act, 15 U. S. C. § 29, and not by an exercise of our discretionary jurisdiction.

The first question proposed by the Government is whether the evidence sustains the findings of fact by the District Court. This is the basic issue, and the Government raises no question of law that has an existence independent of it. This issue of fact does not arise upon the trial court's disregard or misunderstanding of some definite

[ 338 U.S. Page 340]

     and well-established fact. It extends to almost every detail of the decision, the Government saying that the trial court "ignored . . . substantially all of the facts which the Government deemed significant."

What the Government asks, in effect, is that we try the case de novo on the record, reject nearly all of the findings of the trial court, and substitute contrary findings of our own. Specifications of error which are fundamental to its case ask us to reweigh the evidence and review findings that are almost entirely concerned with imponderables, such as the intent of parties to certain 1929 business transactions, whether corporate officers were then acting in personal or official capacities, what was the design and purpose and intent of those who carried out twenty-year-old transactions, and whether they had legitimate business motives or were intending to restrain trade of their competitors in car manufacture, such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Packard.

These were the chief fact issues in a trial of three weeks' duration. The Government relied in large part on inferences from its 485 exhibits, introduced by nine witnesses. The defendants relied heavily on oral testimony to contradict those inferences. The record is before us in 1,674 closely-printed pages.

The Government suggests that the opinion of the trial court "seems to reflect uncritical acceptance of defendants' evidence and of defendants' views as to the facts to be given consideration in passing upon the legal issues before the court." We see that it did indeed accept defendants' evidence and sustained defendants' view of the facts. But we are unable to discover the slightest justification for the accusation that it did so "uncritically." Also, it rejected the inferences the Government drew from its documents, but we find no justification for the statement that it "ignored" them. The judgment below is supported by an opinion, prepared with obvious care,

[ 338 U.S. Page 341]

     which analyzes the evidence and shows the reasons for the findings. To us it appears to represent the considered judgment of an able trial judge, after patient hearing, that the Government's evidence fell short of its allegations -- a not uncommon form of litigation casualty, from which the Government is no more immune than others.

Only last term we accepted the view then advanced by the Government that for triers of fact totally to reject an opposed view impeaches neither their impartiality nor the propriety of their conclusions. We said, "We are constrained to reject the court's conclusion that an objective finder of fact could not resolve all factual conflicts arising in a legal proceeding in favor of one litigant. The ordinary lawsuit, civil or criminal, normally depends for its resolution on which version ...


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