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Eastern States Lumber Ass'n v. United States, 234 U.S. 600 (1914)

Eastern States Retail Lumber

Dealers' Association v. United States

Nos. 511, 550

Argued October 24, 27, 1913

Decided June 22, 1914

234 U.S. 600


Conspiracies are seldom capable of proof by direct testimony, and a conspiracy to accomplish that which is their natural consequence may be inferred from the things actually done.

The Sherman Law, as construed by this Court in the Standard Oil case, while not reaching normal and usual contracts incident to lawful purposes and in furtherance of legitimate trade, does broadly condemn all combinations and conspiracies which restrain the free and natural flow of trade in the channels of interstate commerce.

Held in this case that the circulation of a so-called official report among members of an association of retail dealers calling attention to actions

Page 234 U. S. 601

of listed wholesale dealer in selling direct to consumers tended to prevent member of the association from dealing with the listed dealers referred to in the report, and to directly and unreasonably restrain trade by preventing it with such listed dealer, and was within the prohibitions of the Sherman Law.

While a retail dealer may unquestionably stop dealing with a wholesaler for any reason sufficient to himself, he and other dealer may not combine and agree that none of them will deal with such wholesaler without, in case interstate commerce is involved, violating the Sherman Law.

An act, harmless when done by one person, may become a public wrong when done by many acting in concert in pursuance of a conspiracy. Grenada Lumber Co. v. Mississippi, 217 U. S. 433.

201 F. 581 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the determination of whether an arrangement between certain retail lumbermen's associations in regard to their relations with wholesale dealers amounted to a combination and conspiracy in restraint of trade within the prohibitions of the Sherman Act, are stated in the opinion.

Page 234 U. S. 604

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