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Hecht Co. v. Bowles
United States Supreme Court
321 U.S. 321 (1944)
The Hecht Company (Hecht) (defendant) operated a Washington, D.C., department store with over 1.2 million articles of merchandise and 2,000 employees. When Congress passed the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 to combat rampant post-war inflation, Hecht created a new price-control office before the effective date. A department head and seven assistants worked full time to ensure compliance. Despite those efforts, the sheer number of employees and transactions and the complexity of the regulation caused confusion. Price administrator Bowles (plaintiff) conducted a spot-check investigation, found numerous violations, and filed a complaint seeking an injunction. Hecht immediately tried to correct the problem by expanding the price-control office to 28 employees, giving customers rebates, and offering to donate the rest of the overcharges to charity. The district court found an injunction would be unjust instead of effectively ensuring future compliance and dismissed the complaint. Bowles appealed. The appellate court reversed, reasoning that the act mandated an injunction or other remedial order upon finding a violation. Hecht appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)
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