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Nothing less than a clear showing of grievous wrong evoked by new and unforeseen conditions should lead a court to change what was decreed after years of litigation with the consent of all concerned.
A consent decree, which restrained defendant meat packers from handling retail groceries, resulted from a federal antitrust proceeding where the government alleged that the ability of the packers through their facilities to distribute other commodities with no increase in overhead gave them an advantage over competitors. Defendants asserted that changed circumstances warranted a modification of the consent decree. The Supreme Court of the District of Columbia modified the consent decree. Certiorari was granted.
Did the changed circumstances warrant the medication of the consent decree?
On certiorari, the Court reversed, holding that modification of the consent decree was not warranted by changed conditions where the reasons for seeking the decree still existed. The Court stated that there was no doubt that defendants' present position was equal to that which they held in the past. Defendants were still in a position to starve out weaker rivals, or at least the fear of abuse was present.