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Broadway Delivery Corp. v. United Parcel Service of America Inc.

decided: June 3, 1981.

BROADWAY DELIVERY CORP., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE OF AMERICA, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES .



Appeal from a judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York (Kevin T. Duffy, Judge) dismissing, after a jury trial, an antitrust complaint for treble damages, the plaintiffs-appellants challenging primarily the District Court's jury instruction that the defendants could not be found to have monopolized the relevant market urged by the plaintiffs unless the defendants' share of that market was at least 50%. Judgment affirmed.

Before Lumbard and Newman, Circuit Judges, and Tenney,*fn* District Judge.

Author: Newman

This is an appeal from a judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York (Kevin T. Duffy, Judge) dismissing, after a jury trial, a complaint for treble damages under § 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15 (1976). The suit was brought by various firms that transport packages in the New York metropolitan area against United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (UPSA) and its wholly owned operating subsidiary in the Northeast, United Parcel Service, Inc. (New York) (UPSNY). The plaintiffs charged that from 1960 to 1975 the defendants conspired to monopolize, and monopolized or attempted to monopolize the pickup and delivery of small packages sent by wholesalers in the New York garment district, in violation of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1, 2 (1976). The § 1 claim was disposed of by summary judgment on the basis of the defendants' unopposed showing that during the relevant period they conducted their affairs and held themselves out as a single firm, incapable of conspiring with itself in violation of § 1. The § 2 claims were tried to a jury, which returned a verdict for the defendants. On appeal, the plaintiffs-appellants challenge primarily the District Court's rejection of their § 1 claim, and the Court's jury instruction that they could not prevail on their § 2 monopolization claim unless they proved that during the relevant period the defendants controlled at least 50% of the relevant market.*fn1 We conclude that the plaintiffs abandoned their § 1 claim and that the challenged jury instruction was erroneous but harmless error in light of the plaintiffs' failure to present a prima facie case of a § 2 monopolization violation. Our disposition of these issues moots the other claims of error, and we therefore affirm.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiffs transport goods by motor vehicle in and around what is known in the trade as the New York commercial zone, an area encompassing New York City and parts of northern New Jersey, which is exempt from regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission and the New York State Department of Transportation. Most of the plaintiffs limit their activities to carrying merchandise from garment manufacturers in the commercial zone to retail stores in the commercial zone or to freight consolidators and post offices for re-delivery to retail stores throughout the United States. The plaintiffs who restrict their activities to the unregulated commercial zone are not required to have ICC operating rights, and many have none. Like anyone with a truck who wishes to engage in the transportation business in this area, these plaintiffs are free to pick up and deliver, as often as they wish, as many packages of any size and weight as they are physically able to carry, at any rate that the market will bear.

The defendant UPSA is a Delaware corporation owning all the stock of defendant UPSNY, a New York corporation, and nondefendant United Parcel Service, Inc. (Ohio), an Ohio corporation (UPSO). The UPS subsidiaries transport packages in interstate commerce. UPSNY operates in thirteen Northeastern states, including the New York commercial zone; UPSO operates throughout the rest of the forty-eight contiguous states. Although separately incorporated, the subsidiaries operate cooperatively under a management agreement with UPSA to provide a unified transportation service for shippers throughout the country. During the relevant period, the management agreement provided that UPSA would supply the subsidiaries with a full range of management services in exchange for 4.5% of their gross receipts plus 50% of their net profits. The agreement further provided that UPSA would indemnify each subsidiary against operating losses it sustained in any year in which it followed UPSA's advice and recommendations.

Unlike the plaintiffs who restrict their activities to the commercial zone, the UPS subsidiaries operate under the jurisdiction of the ICC. During the relevant period, their ICC operating certificates prohibited them from carrying a package weighing more than 50 pounds or measuring more than 108 inches in length and girth combined. The certificates also prohibited them from transporting from a single shipper to a single consignee in any one day packages having an aggregate weight of more than 100 pounds. The rates charged by the UPS subsidiaries, contained in tariffs filed with the ICC, are modeled after and closely parallel the rates charged by the United States Postal Service, the UPS organization's principal competitor. The UPS rates depend on the weight of the package and the distance to be traveled and are uniform for shippers throughout the country.

The record on appeal sheds little additional light on the nature of the market in which the parties conduct their operations. The plaintiffs contend that they established a relevant service market consisting of the pickup and delivery of wholesale packages weighing less than 50 pounds, and a relevant geographic market consisting of one of the basic administrative and operating units of the UPS organization, namely, the "Metro New York District," an area consisting in large part of the New York commercial zone. The defendants contend that the plaintiffs' definition of the relevant service market is too narrow in that it excludes some of the plaintiffs themselves, for example, a freight consolidator, who neither picks up nor delivers any packages. The defendants also challenge the plaintiffs' definition of the relevant geographic market, noting that the UPS companies operated during the period in question on a nationwide basis, that the Postal Service also operated nationwide, that much of the merchandise carried locally by the plaintiffs was eventually delivered to points throughout the United States, and that some of the plaintiffs carried merchandise to and from points outside the Metro New York District. On our view of the case, it is unnecessary to resolve the question whether the evidence was sufficient to establish the service and geographic markets urged by the plaintiffs. For purposes of this appeal, we will assume that the relevant service and geographic markets are the ones claimed by the plaintiffs.

How the parties fared in the relevant market is an issue of some uncertainty. The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that UPSNY's share of the relevant market steadily increased throughout the relevant period due to, among other exclusionary practices, below-cost pricing subsidized by UPSA, and that UPSNY eventually acquired more than a 50% share of the relevant market. The plaintiffs' evidence established that UPSNY's traffic tripled during the relevant period and that its revenues increased sevenfold. But the plaintiffs presented no evidence of UPSNY's market share at any time during the period in question. To support their claim that the defendants had engaged in predatory pricing, the plaintiffs relied on summaries of UPSNY's operations prepared by the defendants for internal purposes, and on the record of the payments the defendants made to each other under their management agreement. The plaintiffs interpreted the operating summaries as proof that UPSNY had consistently operated at a loss. However, the defendants' expert in cost accounting testified without rebuttal that the summaries were not only ill-suited for the purpose of showing the profitability of UPSNY's operations, but that, when the figures were properly adjusted, they showed that UPSNY made substantial profits in most years. Losses occurred only in 1963, soon after UPSNY began operating in the relevant market, and in those years in which UPSNY was beset by major strikes. The record of the defendants' payments to each other showed that during the relevant period UPSA collected from UPSNY a total of over $178 million and indemnified it against losses totaling $37.6 million.

Discussion

A. The § 1 Claim

The plaintiffs' § 1 claim was directed primarily at the indemnification provision of the defendants' management agreement. The plaintiffs contended that this provision had the purpose and effect of unreasonably restraining competition in the relevant market by enabling UPSA to use the profits earned by UPSO to subsidize predatory pricing by UPSNY. Following three years of pretrial proceedings, the defendants moved for partial summary judgment on the § 1 claim, contending on the basis of affidavits and deposition testimony that the agreement among the UPS entities was outside the purview of § 1 because they had operated at all relevant times as a single enterprise. The plaintiffs opposed the motion on the ground that the defendants had operated independently and requested an opportunity to engage in further discovery to elicit proof to support their claim. The District Court ruled that the defendants' capacity to conspire with each other in violation of § 1 was an issue of fact. Though the defendants' factual showing was unrebutted, the Court continued the motion for sixty days to allow the plaintiffs further opportunity to oppose the motion. The Court warned the plaintiffs that unless they submitted appropriate proof within the sixty-day period, their § 1 claim would be dismissed. The plaintiffs never submitted the required proof, despite several additional extensions of time totaling more than six months, and the defendants' motion was eventually granted.

At a pretrial conference one year later, the plaintiffs' new counsel inquired whether the Court would be willing to submit the § 1 claim to the jury in the event the plaintiffs presented evidence demonstrating that the defendants had entered into an agreement prohibited by § 1. Judge Duffy replied that, despite the order dismissing the § 1 claim (which remained subject to revision, Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b)), he had an open mind on the matter and was willing to permit the plaintiffs to attempt to prove the elements of their § 1 claim. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs failed to press the § 1 claim before the jury, requested no jury instruction on the claim, and voiced no objection when no § 1 instruction was given.

Whether the applicability of the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine is an issue of law or fact, a question that continues to divide the other circuits,*fn2 we agree with the defendants that the plaintiffs abandoned their § 1 claim when they failed to pursue it at trial. The District Court's grant of the plaintiffs' request to litigate the claim before the jury afforded them a full opportunity to secure revision of the order granting the partial summary judgment prior to the entry of any final judgment. The plaintiffs had more than the procedural possibility of revision contemplated by Rule 54(b); they had the District Court's explicit invitation to proceed. Their appeal from the dismissal of their claim is therefore no different from prior appeals challenging the rejection of claims and defenses that were pleaded but not properly pursued in the trial court; in such cases an appellate court will not relieve a party of the effect of its procedural default, except in the most extraordinary circumstances to ...


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