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FTC v. Morton Salt Co.

Supreme Court of the United States

March 10, 1948, Argued ; May 3, 1948, Decided

No. 464

Opinion

 [*39]   [**825]   [***1200]  MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Federal Trade Commission, after a hearing, found that the respondent, which manufactures and sells table salt in interstate commerce, had discriminated in price between different purchasers of like grades and qualities, and concluded that such discriminations were in  [***1201]  violation  [*40]  of § 2 of the Clayton Act, 38 Stat. 730, as amended by the Robinson-Patman Act, 49 Stat. 1526, 15 U. S. C. § 13. 1 [****8]  It accordingly issued a cease and desist order. 39 F. T. C. 35. 2 Upon petition of the respondent the Circuit Court of Appeals, with one judge dissenting, set aside the Commission's findings and order, directed the Commission to dismiss its complaint against respondent,  [****7]  and denied a cross petition of the Commission for enforcement of its order. 162 F.2d 949. The Court's judgment rested on its construction of the Act, its holding that crucial findings of the Commission were either not supported by evidence or were contrary to the evidence, and its conclusion that the Commission's order was too broad.  Since questions of importance in the construction and administration of the Act were presented, we granted certiorari. 332 U.S. 850. Disposition of these questions requires only a brief narration of the facts.

Respondent manufactures several different brands of table salt 3 and sells them directly to (1) wholesalers or  [*41]  jobbers, who in turn resell to the retail trade, and (2) large retailers, including chain store retailers. Respondent sells its finest brand of table salt, known as Blue Label, on what it terms a standard quantity discount system available to all customers. Under this system the purchasers pay a delivered price  [**826]  and the cost to both wholesale and retail purchasers of this brand differs according to the quantities bought. These prices are as follows, after making allowance for rebates and discounts:

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334 U.S. 37 *; 68 S. Ct. 822 **; 92 L. Ed. 1196 ***; 1948 U.S. LEXIS 2766 ****; 1948 Trade Cas. (CCH) P62,247; 1 A.L.R.2d 260

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. MORTON SALT CO.

Subsequent History:  [****1]  As Amended. 

Prior History: CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.

A cease-and-desist order issued by the Federal Trade Commission in a proceeding against respondent under the amended Clayton Act, to terminate alleged unlawful price discriminations, 40 F. T. C. 388, 398, was set aside by the Circuit Court of Appeals. 162 F.2d 949. This Court granted certiorari. 332 U.S. 850. Reversed and remanded, p. 55.

Disposition:  162 F.2d 949, reversed.

CORE TERMS

discounts, quantity, differentials, purchasers, retail, salt, prices, customers, carload, wholesalers, provisos, injure, lessen, discriminatory, Robinson-Patman Act, discriminations, savings, merchants, selling, costs, reasonable possibility, Clayton Act, less-than-carload, competitors, allowances, practices, seller's, qualifying, compete, destroy

Antitrust & Trade Law, Robinson-Patman Act, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Claims, Price Discrimination, Defenses, Exemptions & Immunities, Robinson-Patman Act Exemptions, Business & Corporate Compliance, Types of Commercial Transactions, Sales of Goods, Competitive Injuries, US Federal Trade Commission Actions, Investigations, Regulated Practices, Remedies, Buyer's Damages & Remedies, Public Enforcement, Judicial Review