Jenner & Block

June 1, 2014 Firm Scores Early Appellate Victory in 1925 Maple Flooring Ruling

Newman, Poppenhusen, Stern & Johnston was primarily a transactional firm in the 1920s, when name partner Jacob Newman represented the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, a trade association based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Members would share weekly statistics showing charges that had been made for the various grades of lumber during the previous week, monthly statements of lumber on hand and other statistical data. In the mid-1920s, the U.S. government complained that those activities, among others, violated the Sherman Act. Newman gave the matter to Edward "The Chief" Johnston, the firm’s principal litigator.  "The Chief" took depositions of lumber dealers throughout the country that dealt with the Association to show that “they had not been faced with any monopolistic price situations,” he wrote in his memoirs.  The Association, he added, did not list current prices or advise members of changes in prices but disclosed only past transactions. “We contended this was permissible economic information.”  On this day in 1925, the Supreme Court agreed in a landmark decision and early appellate victory for the firm.  “The natural effect of the acquisition of wider and more scientific knowledge of business conditions on the minds of the individuals engaged in commerce and its consequent effect in stabilizing production and price can hardly be deemed a restraint of commerce or, if so, it cannot, we think, be said to be an unreasonable restraint, or in any respect, unlawful,” the majority opinion read.

CATEGORIES: 1914-1924, Antitrust, E Johnston, Supreme Court

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