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Cement Manufacturers Protective Association v. United States

268 U.S. 588 (1925)

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Cement Manufacturers Protective Association v. United States

United States Supreme Court

268 U.S. 588 (1925)

Facts

Cement Manufacturers Protective Association (CMPA) (defendant), an association of cement manufacturers, collected and disseminated information among its members. This information included whether contractors with requirement contracts for specific jobs were buying more cement than the job required plus lists of contractors who were delinquent on cement payments. The requirement contracts allowed a contractor to obtain cement pricing from several cement manufacturers for a specific job. The contractor was not obligated to work with any one cement manufacturer and could therefore negotiate and sign multiple agreements. However, the terms of each agreement provided that a contractor was legally entitled only to fulfill its cement requirements for each job with one manufacturer. Members of CMPA let each other know when a contractor fulfilled a specific job contract with one of them in case the contractor also tried to purchase cement for that job from a second manufacturer. A contractor might try to do that to take advantage of lower cement prices as prices rose, allowing the contractor to buy cement for a new project at lower rates negotiated for a previous project. CMPA members did not agree among themselves to refuse to sell to contractors who had already fulfilled a specific job contract with another manufacturer or to stop selling to contractors with delinquent payment histories. The United States (plaintiff) sued, asserting that CMPA’s information exchanges constituted concerted action in violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act, and the district court ruled in favor of the United States. CMPA appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stone, J.)

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