Bigelow v. RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Bigelow v. RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.327 U. S.251, was a decision by the United States Supreme Court allowing an action to recover compensatory damages under the antitrust statutes. The jury had returned a verdict for $120,000 in petitioners favor, the trial court, sitting in the Northern District of Illinois, gave judgment for treble damages, as prescribed by §4 of the Clayton Act. The 7th Circuit reversed on the ground that the evidence of damage was not sufficient for submission to the jury. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the evidence of damage was sufficient to support the verdict, respondents argued that any measure of damages would be too speculative and uncertain to afford an accurate measure of the amount of the damage. The Supreme Court disagreed, not wanting to let the respondent defeat a remedy because its antitrust violation was so effective, the judgment of the district court was affirmed and the judgment of the court of appeals was reversed. During the conspiracy, films were distributed among cinemas in Chicago in such a manner that theatres owned by some of the conspirators were able to show movies before independent theater operators, independent exhibitors were not able to show new movies until the conspirators had finished with a first run. The Supreme Court found that it was indisputable that the jury could have found that, a first run theater possessed competitive advantages over later run theaters and that this discriminatory release was damaging to petitioners. The problem, however, was the uncertainty in determining to what amount those damages should total, the petitioners submitted two methodologies for calculating damages. The first was the method, which compared the earnings from petitioners theater, Jackson Park, during the conspiracy to the earnings of its competitor. The two theaters were comparable in size, although the Jackson Park theater was superior in location, equipment, the Maryland Theater, however, was owned by Paramount Pictures, and benefited from the conspiracy. The evidence showed that during the period, Marylands profit exceeded petitioners like profit by $115,982.34. The second measure was the before & after method and this comparison showed a falling off of petitioners profits during the five-year period aggregating $125,659.00. Petitioners are able to submit yardstick or before & after estimates, but they must be careful to use comparable data