which clearly establish Philco's knowledge of their cause of action and the Court's conclusion that they had knowledge, so as to raise a fact issue within the province of a jury. Perhaps there could arise an extreme case in which the fact that one party relates facts to another party does not establish the fact of knowledge by the recipient thereof or by his principal. However, the facts alleged here are not enough to bring such an issue to the jury. Even assuming arguendo that reasonable men might find that Philco disbelieved Baker, our conclusion would not be changed. This is because the issue is not whether or not Philco in fact believed Baker, but whether or not Baker's statement to Philco's officers gave them 'knowledge' of their cause of action. We think it did, at least as far as we are able to comprehend the meaning of that word. We further think that to put such an 'issue' to a jury would be a clear violation of Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Title 28 U.S.C.A.
Single Judgment Rule.
A less difficult problem is presented by defendants' contention that the Court must enter a single judgment against all of the defendants, the judgment to run for the shortest period of limitation applicable to any one of them. Such an argument has already been rejected by Judge Van Dusen in the case of Shapiro v. Paramount Film Distributing Corp., D.C.1960, 177 F.Supp. 88. We are in complete agreement with Judge Van Dusen on this point and, indeed, see little merit in defendants' contention.
As a practical matter, the defendants concede that to apply a single judgment rule here would simply force the plaintiffs to institute a separate suit against those parties with longer periods of limitation for that period which would neither be barred by the statute nor covered by a single judgment here.
This conclusion, however, does not answer the question of whether the Court is compelled to allow the plaintiffs to proceed to adjudicate all of their claims for relief in a single trial -- or whether, in the exercise of its discretion, it should grant separate trials on the plaintiffs' claims against R.C.A. alone for the period between November 20, 1948 and January 15, 1953. Judge Van Dusen left this question open in the Shapiro case, supra, indicating that were the case to be trial to a jury, the entry of more than a single judgment might be looked upon with less favor and indeed not allowed. We are not here concerned with common law concepts of tort actions. An antitrust action is a creation of statute, unknown at common law, and to apply common law principles indiscriminately to actions of this magnitude could conceivably lead to grotesque results.
Since in the present posture of the case the Court cannot determine whether Philco will in fact be able to prove any damages for the longer period of limitations as to R.C.A., this question will be left for decision after completion of discovery and the final pre-trial order for trial.
To summarize what has been said above, we hold that with two exceptions hereinafter set out any claim which the plaintiffs have asserted against any of the defendants (separately or jointly) for violation of the antitrust laws are barred by the applicable statute of limitations prior to January 15, 1953.
The exceptions mentioned above are (1) Philco's claim against A.T. & T. and Western Electric jointly for their alleged conspiracy to restrain trade in and monopolize the public communications industry -- the cutoff date on such a claim being fixed at April 24, 1939; (2) Philco's claim against R.C.A. which claim is tolled by virtue of a Government suit against R.C.A. back to November 20, 1948. Accordingly, by formal order a partial summary judgment will be entered against the plaintiffs as above outlined.
In considering the mechanics of trial, because of the two exceptions set forth above, the Court may, pursuant to Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Title 28 U.S.C.A., order a separate trial on the claim against A.T. & T. and Western Electric, as well as that portion of the claim against R.C.A. which falls within the period between November 20, 1948 and January 15, 1953. However, it is the present thought and intention of the Court to defer decision on these questions pending completion of discovery and further pre-trial conferences.