American Column Co. v. United States

In American Column Co. v. United States, 257 U.S. 377 (1921), the defendant association adopted a plan for the gathering from its members daily and disseminating among them weekly, reports of all sales and shipments actually made, giving prices, names and addresses of purchasers, the kind, grade and quantity of commodity sold and shipped. Its plan provided for a monthly production report giving production of members during the previous month; a monthly stock report showing stock on hand on the first day of the month; current price lists, followed by prompt information as to new price quotations as made. Monthly meetings were held at which the extensive interchange of reports was supplemented by further exchange of information as to production, at which active and concerted efforts were made to suppress competition by the restriction of production. The secretary of the Association, in communications to members, actively urged curtailment of production and increase of prices. The record disclosed a systematic effort, participated in by the members of the Association and led and directed by the secretary of the Association, to cut down production and increase prices. The court not only held that this concerted effort was in itself unlawful, but that it resulted in an actual excessive increase of price to which the court found the "united action of this large and influential membership of dealers contributed greatly." The opinion of the court in that case rests squarely on the ground that there was a combination on the part of the members to secure concerted action in curtailment of production and increase of price, which actually resulted in a restraint of commerce, producing increase of price.