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Emich Motors Corp. v. General Motors Corp., 340 U.S. 558 (1951)

Emich Motors Corp. v. General Motors Corp.

No. 209

Argued January 3-4, 1951

Decided February 26, 1951

340 U.S. 558


1. In this suit under § 4 of the Clayton Act to recover treble damages for injuries sustained by reason of a conspiracy in restraint of trade, plaintiffs were entitled under § 5 to introduce a prior criminal judgment based on a conviction of defendants for the same conspiracy in order to establish prima facie all matters of fact and law necessarily decided by the conviction and the verdict on which it was based. Pp. 340 U. S. 566-569.

2. Where the criminal judgment rests on a general verdict of the jury, what was decided by that judgment must be determined by the trial judge hearing the treble damage suit, upon an examination of the record, including the pleadings, the evidence submitted, the instructions under which the jury arrived at its verdict, and any opinions of the court. P. 340 U. S. 569.

3. The criminal judgment involved in this case was prima facie evidence of a general conspiracy for the purpose of monopolizing the financing of General Motors cars, and also of the effectuation of that conspiracy by coercing General Motors dealers to use its subsidiary finance company's services. Pp. 340 U. S. 570-571.

4. In order to establish their prima facie case, it therefore was only necessary for plaintiffs to introduce, in addition to the criminal judgment, evidence of the impact of the conspiracy on them and evidence of any resulting damages. P. 340 U. S. 571.

5. What issues were decided by the criminal conviction is a question of law on which the judge must instruct the jury. He should (1) examine the record to determine the issues decided by that judgment; (2) in his instructions to the jury reconstruct that case in the manner and to the extent he deems necessary to acquaint the jury fully with the issues determined therein, and (3) explain the scope and effect of the former judgment on the case at trial. Pp. 340 U. S. 571-572.

181 F.2d 70 modified.

Page 340 U. S. 559

The case is remanded to the Court of Appeals with directions to modify its judgment, p. 340 U. S. 572.

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