its rights. In this, however, it was mistaken.
The Court is of the opinion that 'full supply' contracts which embodied the classification plan for arriving at the price of milk constituted, in effect, agreements to fix prices. It is well settled that an agreement to fix prices of a commodity is per se an unreasonable restraint of trade and, therefore, a violation of the Sherman Act. This principle was laid down in two leading cases decided by the Supreme Court: United States v. Trenton Potteries, 273 U.S. 392, at page 397, et seq., 47 S. Ct. 377, 71 L. Ed. 700, 50 A.L.R. 989, and United States v. Socony Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. 150, at page 212 et seq., 60 S. Ct. 811, 84 L. Ed. 1129.
The conclusion is inescapable that there is substantial evidence justifying a finding that the operation of the 'full supply' contracts embodying the classification plan constituted a scheme for controlling and fixing prices of milk sold by the Association to the distributors, and, therefore, is an illegal restraint of trade in contravention of Section 3 of the Sherman Act.
In justice to all, it should be observed that there is no evidence that any of the defendants acted in bad faith or that any of the defendants was actuated by any malevolent motive or pursued an evil design, or that any defendant engaged in any unethical practice, or in any manner oppressed either any competitor or the public. Moreover, there is no evidence that the prices fixed were unreasonable or that either the competitors or the consuming public were in any way actually harmed or prejudiced. There is an honest difference of opinion between the Government and some of the defendants as to whether the course of conduct just described was permitted by law. This question could well have been settled by a civil action without a criminal prosecution with all its implications.
In view of the considerations just summarized, the motion for a judgment of acquittal is granted in respect to those defendants who were not parties to 'full supply' contracts during the three-year period immediately preceding the filing of the indictment, to wit, Chestnut Farms-Chevy Chase Dairy Company; Thompson's Dairy, Incorporated, and Simpson Brothers, Incorporated.
The motion for a judgment of acquittal is denied in respect to the remaining defendants, to wit, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association; Alexandria Dairy Products Company, Incorporated; Richfield Dairy Corporation; Harvey Dairy, Incorporated; Safeway Stores, Incorporated, and B. B. Derrick.
As to the latter group of defendants this proceeding will be limited and restricted to the subject of 'full supply' contracts embodying the classification plan.
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