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Bigelow v. RKO Radio Pictures

United States Supreme Court
327 U.S. 251 (1946)


Facts

The plaintiffs owned the Jackson Park Theatre, which was located on the south side of Chicago. The plaintiffs sued a group of film distributors and a chain of movie theaters (collectively, defendants) for antitrust violations. Bigelow presented evidence during trial that the distributors and the movie theaters conspired together to give the movie theaters the right to run feature films for an exclusive period before other movie theaters, including Jackson Park Theatre, were allowed to show the films. The plaintiffs claimed damages of $120,000 and presented evidence that a comparable movie theater that was a part of the defendant’s chain collected $115,982.34 more in net receipts than the Jackson Park Theatre. The plaintiffs also introduced a comparison of Jackson Park Theatre’s net receipts for a four-year time period when the theater was able to show films that had not been previously shown in a theater and the five-year period immediately following the theater’s inability to show films that had not been previously shown. This comparison showed a reduction of $125,659.00 in net receipts after the theater was unable to show films that had not been previously shown. The jury returned a verdict for $120,000 in favor of the plaintiffs. The trial court entered a judgment for treble that amount in accordance with § 4 of the Clayton Act. The defendants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The court of appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court based on the uncertainty of the proof of damages. The plaintiffs petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review. 

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stone, C.J.)

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Dissent (Frankfurter, J.)

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