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UNITED STATES v. UNITED STATES GYPSUM CO.

DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


August 10, 1943

UNITED STATES
v.
UNITED STATES GYPSUM CO. et al.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLAND; GARRETT

Before STEPHENS, Associate Justice, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Presiding), and BLAND and GARRETT, Judges, United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, designated as Justices of the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia.*

BLAND, Judge, and GARRETT, Judge:

The instant equity action was instituted by the Government in the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia by complaint on August 15, 1940. The Government seeks, among other things, to obtain a judgment against the defendants enjoining them from certain alleged monopolistic practices and relationships in connection with trade and commerce in gypsum products between the states and the District of Columbia under sections 1, 2, and 3 of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 15 U.S.C.A. ยงยง 1-3.

 In a criminal action in said District Court, under an indictment returned June 28, 1940, the Government prosecuted the defendants under sections 1 and 3 of said Act. The pleadings in that case alleged a conspiracy to monopolize and restrain trade and commerce in certain gypsum products. On november 19, 1941, the trial judge sustained the motions of defendants for a directed verdict of not guilty. Judgment was entered accordingly.

 The defendants, in this court, have moved, under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 723c, for summary judgment upon the ground that in said criminal action, where it is urged that the parties and issues were substantially the same as those at bar, a judgment for defendants was obtained which is res judicata of the issues in the instant case and should be held by us to be a bar against the further prosecution of the instant action.

 The motions have been argued and briefed at great length by both parties on three phases of the question: First, are the parties the same or substantially the same?; second, are the issues the same?; and third, was the judgment based on the trial judge's instruction made pursuant to defendants' motions for directed verdict in the nature of a demurrer to the evidence.

 It is our view that if in the criminal case there had been an acquittal by the jury and a judgment rendered thereon, that judgment would not be res judicata of the issues in the instant case. This conclusion is amply supported by the following decisions: Helvering v. Mitchell, 1938, 303 U.S. 391, 58 S. Ct. 630, 82 L. Ed. 917; Murphy v. United States, 1926, 272 U.S. 630, 47 S. Ct. 218, 71 L. Ed. 446; Lewis v. Frink, 1914, 233 U.S. 291, 34 S. Ct. 488, 58 L. Ed. 967; Stone v. United States, 1897, 167 U.S. 178, 17 S. Ct. 778, 42 L. Ed. 127; and United States v. Donaldson-Shultz Co., 4 Cir., 1906, 148 F. 581.

 It is unnecessary, therefore, for us to express any view as to whether, for the purposes of this case, the parties and issues are the same, because even if they are, under the decisions above set out the judgment in the criminal case would not be res judicata of the issues in this civil proceeding. Nor is it necessary for us to make any holding with respect to the nature of the peremptory instruction given by the trial judge, since the question relating to whether defendant's motions for directed verdict were in the nature of a demurrer to the evidence has to do only with the question of whether or not there was an adjudication in that proceeding. As hereinbefore stated, if there had been such an adjudication as would have resulted from a judgment entered on a verdict of not guilty found by a jury on the merits, the doctrine of res judicata would not apply in the instant case.

 The reasons why the doctrine does not apply in this kind of action are clearly expressed in a number of decided cases. For instance, the quantum of proof in a criminal case is wholly different from that required in a civil proceeding. Defendants may be required to testify in a civil proceeding but not in a criminal proceeding. Moreover, the most impelling reason, in our judgment, why res judicata does not apply in this case is that it is clear from the context of the Sherman Act that such a doctrine was never meant to apply. As the Supreme Court has said, it was the intention of Congress in providing for a criminal proceeding, an equity proceeding, and a suit by a damaged individual -- all in one act -- that concurrent remedies were to be afforded. Standard Sanitary Mfg. Co. v. United States, 1912, 226 U.S. 20, 33 S. Ct. 9, 57 L. Ed. 107.Under such circumstances it would seem clear that a judgment in one action would not be a bar to obtaining a judgment in the others.

 It seems to us that it would be wholly illogical to conclude that one charged with a violation of the Sherman Act could, by reason of an acquittal in a criminal case, thereby obtain immunity from any further remedy designed to bring about the discontinuance of a continuing offense.

 While there is no decided case involving facts identical with those at bar, it seems to us that the principles in the above-cited cases amply justify the conclusion that in cases like that at bar a full adjudication in a criminal action between the same parties and involving the same conspiracy would not be a bar in a subsequent civil action for injunctive relief.

 In Murphy v. United States, supra, the defendant was acquitted of a charge of maintaining a nuisance and subsequently, in an equity action, was enjoined from occupying the place. The statute there, as here, contemplated both kinds of action, and the holding was that the second suit was not barred by the acquittal in the criminal action. Reasons for such conclusion were therein fully stated, and the doctrines laid down in Stone v. United States, supra, and Chantangco v. Abaroa, 1910, 218 U.S. 476, 31 S. Ct. 34, 54 L. Ed. 1116, were again relied upon and fully stated.

 Defendants' said motions for summary judgment are denied.

19430810

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