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Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 12, 1985, Argued ; March 26, 1986, Decided

No. 83-2004


 [*576]   [***546]   [**1350]  JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

 This case requires that we again consider the standard district courts must apply  [**1351]  when deciding whether to grant summary judgment in an antitrust conspiracy case.

Stating the facts of this case is a daunting task. The opinion of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit runs to 69 pages; the primary [****7]  opinion of the District Court is more than three times as long. In re Japanese Electronic Products  [*577]  Antitrust Litigation, 723 F.2d 238 (CA3 1983); 513 F.Supp. 1100 (ED Pa. 1981). Two respected District Judges each have authored a number of opinions in this case; the published ones alone would fill an entire volume of the Federal Supplement. In addition, the parties have filed a 40-volume appendix in this Court that is said to contain the essence of the evidence on which the District Court and the Court of Appeals based their respective decisions.

We will not repeat what these many opinions have stated and restated, or summarize the mass of documents that constitute the record on appeal. Since we review only the standard applied by the Court of Appeals in deciding this case, and not the weight assigned to particular pieces of evidence, we find it unnecessary to state the facts in great detail. What follows is a summary of this case's long history.

Petitioners, defendants below, are 21 corporations that manufacture or sell "consumer electronic products" (CEPs) -- for the most part, television sets. Petitioners include both Japanese [****8]  manufacturers of CEPs and American firms, controlled by Japanese parents, that sell the Japanese-manufactured products. Respondents, plaintiffs below, are Zenith Radio Corporation (Zenith) and National Union Electric Corporation (NUE).  Zenith is an American firm that manufactures and sells television sets. NUE is the corporate successor to Emerson Radio Company, an American firm that manufactured and sold television sets until 1970, when it withdrew from the market after sustaining substantial losses.  Zenith and NUE began this lawsuit in 1974, 2 claiming that petitioners had illegally conspired to drive  [*578]  American firms from the American CEP market. According to respondents, the gist of this conspiracy  [***547]  was a "'scheme to raise, fix and maintain artificially high prices for television receivers sold by [petitioners] in Japan and, at the same time, to fix and maintain low prices for television receivers exported to and sold in the United States.'" 723 F.2d, at 251 (quoting respondents' preliminary pretrial memorandum).  These "low prices" were allegedly at levels that produced substantial losses for petitioners. 513 F.Supp., at 1125.  [****9]  The conspiracy allegedly began as early as 1953, and according to respondents was in full operation by sometime in the late 1960's. Respondents claimed that various portions of this scheme violated §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, § 2(a) of the Robinson-Patman Act, § 73 of the Wilson Tariff Act, and the Antidumping Act of 1916.

After several years of detailed discovery, petitioners filed motions for summary judgment on all claims against them. The District Court directed the parties to file, with preclusive effect, "Final Pretrial Statements" listing all the documentary evidence that would be offered if the case proceeded to trial.  Respondents filed such a statement, and petitioners responded with a series of motions challenging the admissibility [****10]  of respondents' evidence. In three detailed opinions, the District Court found the bulk of the evidence on which Zenith and NUE relied inadmissible. 3

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475 U.S. 574 *; 106 S. Ct. 1348 **; 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 ***; 1986 U.S. LEXIS 38 ****; 54 U.S.L.W. 4319; 1986-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P67,004; 4 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 368



Disposition:  723 F.2d 238, reversed and remanded.


prices, conspiracy, predatory, petitioners', losses, conspirators, antitrust, manufacturers, summary judgment, respondents', profits, cartel, firms, motive, products, district court, company rule, competitors, factfinder, cases, sales, export, alleged conspiracy, distributors, television, predation, monopoly, direct evidence, drive, anti trust law

Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Supporting Materials, General Overview, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, Judgments, Antitrust & Trade Law, Sherman Act, Remedies, Damages, Criminal Law & Procedure, Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Elements