In re Beef Industry Antitrust Litigation

600 F.2d 1148 (5th Cir. 1979)



The district court has ample discretion, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f), to order stricken from the complaint any redundant or immaterial matter. Although unnecessary evidentiary details are usually not stricken from the complaint unless prejudicial or of no consequence to the controversy, evidence pleading, as distinguished from the pleading of ultimate facts, is not favored under the Federal Rules. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Many courts have properly stricken unnecessary evidentiary detail from pleadings. 


Plaintiffs, cattlemen, ranchers, and feeders, contended that the district court erred in dismissing their actions against defendants, retail food chains, a wholesale grocer, a national trade association, and a beef industry price reporting publication. Plaintiffs in the various suits charged that the retail chains combined, primarily by using the trade association and the price reporting publication, to fix at artificially low levels the prices at which beef was purchased from the slaughterhouses and the meat packers, and ultimately from the producers, the cattle ranchers and the feeders. Plaintiffs based their claims on federal antitrust laws. The district court dismissed the complaints and granted the defendants' motion to strike allegations of retail price-fixing from the complaints. Those allegations charged the retail chains with conspiring to set artificially high prices for beef sold to retail consumers.  On appeal, the judgment dismissing the complaints was reversed. 


Did the district court err in striking plaintiffs' allegations of retail price-fixing from their complaints?




The court held that plaintiffs had successfully pleaded the narrow cost-plus exception to the Illinois Brick rule. The court held that it was error to strike plaintiffs' allegations of retail price-fixing from their complaints. The court found that the complaints all stated claims for injunctive relief under § 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 26.

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