Vendo Co. v. Lektro-Vend Corp., 433 U.S. 623 (1977)

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Author: Justice Blackmun

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Vendo Co. v. Lektro-Vend Corp., 433 U.S. 623 (1977)

MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, concurring in the result.

Although I agree that the decision of the Court of Appeals should be reversed, I do so for reasons that differ significantly from those expressed by the plurality. According to the plurality’s analysis, § 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 26, is not an expressly authorized exception to the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, because it is not

an "Act of Congress . . . [which] could be given its intended scope only by the stay of a state court proceeding," [Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 238 (1972)].

Ante at 632. I do not agree that this is invariably the case; since I am of the opinion, however, that the state court proceeding in this case should not have been enjoined by the federal court, I concur in the result.

In my opinion, application of the Mitchum test for deciding whether a statute is an "expressly authorized" exception to the Anti-Injunction Act shows that § 16 is such an exception under narrowly limited circumstances. Nevertheless, consistently with the decision in California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited, 404 U.S. 508 (1972),

In my view, the District Court failed properly to apply the California Motor Transport rule. The court believed that it was enough that Vendo’s activities in the single state court proceeding involved in this case were not genuine attempts to use the state adjudicative process legitimately. In reaching this conclusion, the court looked to Vendo’s purpose in conducting the state litigation and to several negative consequences that the litigation had for respondents. The court, however, did not find a "pattern of baseless, repetitive claims," nor could it have done so under the circumstances. Only one state court proceeding was involved in this case, and it resulted in the considered affirmance by the Illinois Supreme Court of a judgment for more than $7 million. In my opinion, therefore, it cannot be said on this record that Vendo was using the state court proceeding as an anticompetitive device in and of itself. Thus, I believe that § 16 itself did not authorize the injunction below, and on this ground I would reverse.

* I cannot agree with MR. JUSTICE STEVENS, post at 661-662, that the examples given in the quoted portion of California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited necessarily involve the use of the adjudicatory process in the same way that the state courts were being used in this case. For example, there is no reason to believe that the Court’s reference to the use of a patent obtained by fraud to exclude a competitor contemplated only one lawsuit. The case cited in connection with that reference, Walker Process Equipment, Inc. v. Food Machinery & Chemical Corp., 382 U.S. 172 (1965), held only that the enforcement of a patent procured by fraud on the Patent Office could state a claim under § 2 of the Sherman Act, where the monopolistic acts alleged included use of the fraudulent patent through a course of action involving both threats of suit and prosecution of an infringement suit.

MR. JUSTICE STEVES’ quotation from California Motor Transport stops just short of the language that I consider critical to the instant case. The Court’s opinion continues:

Misrepresentations, condoned in the political arena, are not immunized when used in the adjudicatory process. Opponents before agencies or courts often think poorly of the other’s tactics, motions, or defenses, and may readily call them baseless. One claim which a court or agency may think baseless may go unnoticed, but a pattern of baseless, repetitive claims may emerge which leads the factfinder to conclude that the administrative and judicial processes have been abused. That may be a difficult line to discern and draw.

404 U.S. at 513. Since I believe that federal courts should be hesitant indeed to enjoin ongoing state court proceedings, I am of the opinion that a pattern of baseless, repetitive claims or some equivalent showing of grave abuse of the state courts must exist before an injunction would be proper. No such finding was made by the District Court in this case.

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Chicago: Blackmun, "Blackmun, J., Concurring," Vendo Co. v. Lektro-Vend Corp., 433 U.S. 623 (1977) in 433 U.S. 623 433 U.S. 644–433 U.S. 625astS. Original Sources, accessed October 4, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MEEEPEVSWE5AJH.

MLA: Blackmun. "Blackmun, J., Concurring." Vendo Co. v. Lektro-Vend Corp., 433 U.S. 623 (1977), in 433 U.S. 623, pp. 433 U.S. 644–433 U.S. 625astS. Original Sources. 4 Oct. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MEEEPEVSWE5AJH.

Harvard: Blackmun, 'Blackmun, J., Concurring' in Vendo Co. v. Lektro-Vend Corp., 433 U.S. 623 (1977). cited in 1977, 433 U.S. 623, pp.433 U.S. 644–433 U.S. 625astS. Original Sources, retrieved 4 October 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4MEEEPEVSWE5AJH.