United States v. Container Corp. Of America

393 U.S. 333 (1969)


Ds account for about 90% of the shipment of corrugated containers from plants in the Southeastern United States. Ds’ exchanged transaction specific price information but had no agreement to adhere to a price schedule. The exchange was of information concerning specific sales to identified customers, not a statistical report on the average cost to all members, without identifying the parties to specific transactions was being made between Ds. P instituted a civil antitrust action charging a price-fixing agreement in violation of 1 of the Sherman Act against Ds. The arrangement between Ds was informal and sporadic. This exchange of price information seemed to have the effect of keeping prices within a fairly narrow ambit. Despite excess capacity and the downward trend of prices, the industry has expanded in the Southeast from 30 manufacturers with 49 plants to 51 manufacturers with 98 plants. At trial P established that the market was inelastic with price as the basic variable. P’s claim was dismissed, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.