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Federal Trade Commission v. Standard Oil Co. of California

United States Supreme Court
449 U.S. 232 (1980)


In 1973, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (defendant) filed an administrative complaint against Standard Oil Company of California (Socal) (plaintiff), alleging statutory violations. Socal said the complaint was baseless and politically motivated. Socal exhausted its administrative remedies for persuading the FTC to withdraw the complaint, but the FTC would not withdraw it. While the administrative proceedings were still pending, Socal sought a court order forcing withdrawal of the FTC complaint. Socal contended that the mere filing and pursuit of the allegedly frivolous FTC complaint imposed a legal burden on Socal to respond to the allegedly baseless charges. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed Socal's suit, finding that the filing of the FTC's complaint was not a judicially reviewable final agency action. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit disagreed and reversed in part. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari because of the importance of the judicial-review issue.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

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