This is an action brought to recover threefold damages under the Act to Protect Trade against Monopolies. July 2, 1890, c. 647, § 7. 26 Stat. 209, 210. The Circuit Court dismissed the complaint upon motion, as not setting forth a cause of action. 160 Fed. Rep. 184. This judgment was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals, 166 Fed. Rep. 261, and the case then was brought to this court by writ of error.
As a result of the defendant's acts the plaintiff has been deprived of the use of the plantation, and the railway, the plantation and supplies have been injured. The defendant also, by outbidding, has driven purchasers out of the market and has compelled producers to come to its terms, and it has prevented the plaintiff from buying for export and sale. This is the substantial damage alleged. There is thrown in a further allegation that the defendant has "sought to injure" the plaintiff's business by offering positions to its employes and by discharging and threatening to discharge persons in its own employ who were stockholders of the plaintiff. But no particular point is made of this. It is contended, however, that, even if the main argument fails and the defendant is held not to be answerable for acts depending on the cooperation of the government of Costa Rica for their effect, a wrongful conspiracy resulting in driving the plaintiff out of business is to be gathered from the complaint and that it was entitled to go to trial upon that.
It is obvious that, however stated, the plaintiff's case depends on several rather startling propositions. In the first place the acts causing the damage were done, so far as appears, outside the jurisdiction of the United States and within that of other states. It is surprising to hear it argued that they were governed by the act of Congress.
No doubt in regions subject to no sovereign, like the high seas, or to no law that civilized countries would recognize as
Law is a statement of the circumstances in which the public force will be brought to bear upon men through the courts. But the word commonly is confined to such prophecies or threats when addressed to persons living within the power of
The foregoing considerations would lead in case of doubt to a construction of any statute as intended to be confined in its operation and effect to the territorial limits over which the lawmaker has general and legitimate power. "All legislation is prima facie territorial." Ex parte Blain, In re Sawers, 12 Ch. Div. 522, 528; State v. Carter, 27 N.J. (3 Dutcher) 499; People v. Merrill, 2 Parker, Crim. Rep. 590, 596. Words having universal scope, such as "Every contract in restraint of trade," "Every person who shall monopolize," etc., will be taken as a matter of course to mean only every one subject to such legislation, not all that the legislator subsequently may be able to catch. In the case of the present statute the improbability of the United States attempting to make acts done in Panama or Costa Rica criminal is obvious, yet the law begins by making criminal the acts for which it gives a right to sue. We think it entirely plain that what the defendant did in Panama or Costa Rica is not within the scope of the statute so far as the present suit is concerned. Other objections of a serious nature are urged but need not be discussed.
For again, not only were the acts of the defendant in Panama or Costa Rica not within the Sherman Act, but they were not torts by the law of the place and therefore were not torts at all, however contrary to the ethical and economic postulates of that statute. The substance of the complaint is that, the plantation being within the de facto jurisdiction of Costa Rica, that state took and keeps possession of it by virtue of its sovereign power. But a seizure by a state is not a thing that can be
The fundamental reason why persuading a sovereign power to do this or that cannot be a tort is not that the sovereign cannot be joined as a defendant or because it must be assumed to be acting lawfully. The intervention of parties who had a right knowingly to produce the harmful result between the defendant and the harm has been thought to be a non-conductor and to bar responsibility, Allen v. Flood , A.C. 1, 121, 151, etc., but it is not clear that this is always true, for instance, in the case of the privileged repetition of a slander, Elmer v. Fessenden, 151 Massachusetts, 359, 362, 363, or the malicious and unjustified persuasion to discharge from employment. Moran v. Dunphy, 177 Massachusetts, 485, 487. The fundamental reason is that it is a contradiction in terms to say that within its jurisdiction it is unlawful to persuade a sovereign power to bring about a result that it declares by its conduct to be desirable and proper. It does not, and foreign courts cannot, admit that the influences were improper or the results bad. It makes the persuasion lawful by its own act. The very meaning of sovereignty is that the decree of the sovereign makes law. See Kawananakoa v. Polyblank, 205 U.S. 349, 353. In the case of private persons it consistently may assert the freedom of the immediate parties to an injury and yet declare that certain persuasions addressed to them are wrong. See Angle v. Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Ry. Co., 151 U.S. 1, 16-21; Fletcher v. Peck, 6 Cranch, 87, 130, 131.
The plaintiff relied a good deal on Rafael v. Verelst, 2 Wm. Bl. 983; Ib. 1055. But in that case, although the Nabob who imprisoned the plaintiff was called a sovereign for certain purposes, he was found to be the mere tool of the defendant, an English Governor. That hardly could be listened to concerning a really independent state. But of course it is not alleged
The acts of the soldiers and officials of Costa Rica are not alleged to have been without the consent of the government and must be taken to have been done by its order. It ratified them, at all events, and adopted and keeps the possession taken by them; O'Reilly de Camara v. Brooke, 209 U.S. 45, 52; The Paquete Habana, 189 U.S. 453, 465; Dempsey v. Chambers, 154 Massachusetts, 330, 332. The injuries to the plantation and supplies seem to have been the direct effect of the acts of the Costa Rican government, which is holding them under an adverse claim of right. The claim for them must fall with the claim for being deprived of the use and profits of the place. As to the buying at a high price, etc., it is enough to say that we have no ground for supposing that it was unlawful in the countries where the purchases were made. Giving to this complaint every reasonable latitude of interpretation we are of opinion that it alleges no case under the act of Congress and discloses nothing that we can suppose to have been a tort where it was done. A conspiracy in this country to do acts in another jurisdiction does not draw to itself those acts and make them unlawful, if they are permitted by the local law.
Further reasons might be given why this complaint should not be upheld, but we have said enough to dispose of it and to indicate our general point of view.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN concurs in the result.