Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITED STATES v. AERO-MAYFLOWER TRANSIT CO.

October 31, 1986

United States of America, Petitioner,
v.
Aero-Mayflower Transit Co., et al., Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

 Before this Court is the United States' petition for summary enforcement of administrative subpoena and respondents' motion to quash the subpoena or for leave to take discovery. After thoroughly considering the able oral and extensive written arguments, as well as the many supporting affidavits, this Court concludes that respondents have not sustained their heavy burden of proof. In consequence, the Court must order enforcement of the subpoena forthwith.

 BACKGROUND

 The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice has been investigating alleged anti-competitive practices in the moving and storage industry for at least three years. Memorandum in Support of Petition of the United States for Summary Enforcement of Administrative Subpoenas (hereafter Petitioner's Memorandum) 5 n. 1. These investigations have produced five indictments and one prosecution by information of local moving and storage companies and their principals. Id. They have not, however, so far produced a civil or criminal antitrust action against respondents.

 In September, 1985, the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense initiated its own investigations of possible anticompetitive activity in "certain industries" that contract with DOD. Affidavit of Michael C. Eberhardt, Assistant Inspector General for Criminal Investigation Policy and Oversight, Department of Defense (hereafter "Eberhardt Affidavit") para. 6. Through this project, the Inspector General concluded that its office should investigate practices in the moving and storage industry. Id.

 There were two bases for this decision. For one, the indictments delivered by the Antitrust Division focused on price-fixing in moving and storage of goods for military personnel at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Eberhardt Affidavit para. 11. Moreover, an August 1985 study by a team of Defense Department economists, later supplemented with a more detailed analysis by the same group, indicated that the rates paid by the Department of Defense for all moving and storage services, some $432 million each year, were consistent with the possibility of price-fixing and other collusive activity. Id.

 Sometime that fall, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation invited the DOD Inspector General to participate in a joint investigation to detect price-fixing in Defense Department contracts for moving and storage services. Id. at P 7. The joint investigation began during the winter of 1985-86. Pursuant to that investigation, on April 10, 1986, the DOD Inspector General signed 377 identical subpoena to companies in the household goods moving industry. Id. 102 of these subpoena were to interstate van lines, including respondents. The remainder were to local agents of those lines. Id. The subpoena ordered the companies to produce documents concerning price-setting and performance of transport and storage contracts with the Department of Defense.

 Respondent moving and storage companies informed the Inspector General's office that they would not comply with the subpoena. Id. at Exhibits 4-6. On August 14, 1986, the government petitioned for summary enforcement of the administrative subpoena. Respondents thereupon moved to quash the subpoena or, in the alternative, for limited discovery to investigate the propriety of the government's subpoena.

 THE PURPOSE OF THE SUBPOENA WAS PROPER.

 This Court must order production of material sought by an Inspector General unless his subpoena is "plainly incompetent or irrelevant to any lawful purpose of the [agency] in the discharge of its duties. . . ." See, Endicott Johnson Corp. v. Perkins, 317 U.S. 501, 87 L. Ed. 424, 63 S. Ct. 339 (1943)(standard enunciated); see also, United States v. Morton Salt Co. 338 U.S. 632, 642-43, 94 L. Ed. 401, 70 S. Ct. 357 (1950); United States v. Powell, 379 U.S. 48, 57-58, 13 L. Ed. 2d 112, 85 S. Ct. 248 (1964); Federal Election Commission v. Committee to Elect Lyndon LaRouche, 198 U.S. App. D.C. 116, 613 F.2d 849, 862 (D.C. Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 1074, 100 S. Ct. 1019, 62 L. Ed. 2d 755 (1980). Respondents argue that the DOD investigation is merely a smoke-screen to obtain information for the Justice Department and therefore the subpoena serve no lawful purpose of the DOD Inspector General. The Court cannot agree.

 For one, the subpoena and investigation are well within the Inspector General's powers. A short explication of the legislative history and statutory language makes this clear.

 Designed to attack a perceived epidemic of waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies and programs, the Inspector General Act of 1978 centralized audit and investigative functions within fifteen federal departments and agencies under one official, an Inspector General. S. Rep. No. 1071, 95th Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1978 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2676-79; 5 U.S.C. app. §§ 2, 4. While the Department of Defense was excluded from the 1978 Act, by 1982 Congress was convinced that DOD would benefit from centralization of its large investigative and audit staffs. Consequently, the Defense Authorization Act of 1982 amended the Inspector General Act of 1978 to create an Inspector General within the Department of Defense. Pub. L. No. 95-452, reprinted in 1978 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2676. *fn1"

 The legislative history of the Inspector General Act and the language creating the DOD Inspector General demonstrate beyond cavil that chief among the "functions assigned" by the Act is ". . . the prevention and detection of waste, fraud, and abuse" and conduct of appropriate investigations into suspected misfeasance. 5 U.S.C. app. § 8(c)(1), (2); S. Rep. 1071 at 2676, 2681-82. Economists' findings that pricing patterns in over $430 million of contracts suggest collusive activity, especially when coupled with ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.