United States v. Von's Grocery Co.

384 U.S. 270, 86 S. Ct. 1478 (1966)

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United States v. Von’s Grocery Co.

United States Supreme Court
384 U.S. 270, 86 S. Ct. 1478 (1966)

  • Written by Heather Whittemore, JD

Facts

In the 1950s, competition in the Los Angeles grocery market intensified. Small grocers were acquired by large companies, and large companies greatly increased their numbers of stores in the city. From 1948 to 1958, for example, the number of stores owned by Von’s Grocery Co. (Von’s) (defendant) increased from 14 to 27. Shopping Bag Food Stores (Shopping Bag), which competed with Von’s, increased its number of stores from 15 to 34. Together, Von’s and Shopping Bag controlled 7.5 percent of the grocery market. In 1960 Von’s acquired Shopping Bag by purchasing all its stock and assets. The United States government (plaintiff) sued Von’s, alleging that its acquisition of Shopping Bag violated § 7 of the Clayton Act. The government argued that the acquisition was likely to worsen the trend of large grocers obtaining greater market share to the detriment of small grocers. The government sought a temporary restraining order, which the district court denied. Eventually, the district court held that the acquisition did not violate § 7 because there was not a reasonable probability that it would create a monopoly or substantially lessen competition. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

Dissent (Stewart, J.)

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