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American Medical Assn. v. United States, 317 U.S. 519 (1943)

American Medical Association v. United States

No. 201

Argued December 11, 14, 1942

Decided January 18, 1943*

317 U.S. 519


Petitioners, the American Medical Association and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia (corporations), were indicted and convicted of conspiring to violate § 3 of the Sherman Act by restraining trade or commerce in the District of Columbia. Two unincorporated associations and twenty-one individuals (some of whom were officers or employees of one or the other of the petitioners; others were physicians practicing in the District of Columbia and members of the petitioners) were codefendants, but were acquitted by directed verdict or found not guilty. The indictment charged that, to prevent Group Health -- a nonprofit corporation organized by Government employees to provide medical care and hospitalization on a risk-sharing prepayment basis, and employing full-time physicians on a salary basis -- from carrying out its objects, the defendants conspired to coerce practicing physicians, members of the petitioners, from accepting employment under Group Health; to restrain practicing physicians, members of the petitioners, from consulting with Group Health's doctors who might desire to consult with them, and to restrain hospitals in and about Washington from affording facilities for the care of patients of Group Health's physicians.


1. It is unnecessary here to decide, and the Court does not decide, whether a physician's practice of his profession constitutes trade under § 3 of the Sherman Act. P. 317 U. S. 528.

2. Group Health is engaged in "trade" within the meaning of § 3 of the Sherman Act, notwithstanding that it is cooperative and procures service and facilities on behalf of its members only. P. 317 U. S. 528.

3. The indictment in this case charges a conspiracy to restrain and obstruct the business of Group Health, and therefore a conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce in violation of § 3 of the Sherman Act. P. 317 U. S. 528.

Page 317 U. S. 520

4. The fact that the defendants were physician and medical organizations is of no significance if the purpose and effect of their conspiracy was obstruction and restraint of the business of Group Health, since § 3 prohibits "any person" from imposing the proscribed restraints. P. 317 U. S. 528.

5. The courts below correctly construed the indictment in this case as charging a single conspiracy to obstruct and restrain the business of Group Health -- the recited "purposes" constituting merely different steps toward the accomplishment of that end -- and the cause was submitted to the jury on this theory. Petitioners' challenge of the validity of the general verdict of guilty -- based, in effect, on the contention that the indictment charged five separate conspiracies, and that the defendants were entitled to have the trial court rule upon the sufficiency in law of each of the charges, therefore fails. P. 317 U. S. 532.

6. The evidence in the case was sufficient for submission to the jury. P. 317 U. S. 533.

7. The dispute between petitioners (and their members) and Group Health (and its members) was not one "concerning terms and conditions of employment," and therefore petitioners' activities were not exempted, by § 20 of the Clayton Act as expanded by § 13 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, from the operation of the Sherman Act. P. 317 U. S. 533.

130 F.2d 233 affirmed.

Certiorari, post, p. 613, to review the affirmance of convictions for violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Page 317 U. S. 526

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