of any fraud or concealment. The vast differences between the Clayton Act and the False Claims Act, with respect to nature, subject-matter and purpose, make comparisons of little value for present purposes.
Defendants earnestly contend that the legislative history of § 4B conclusively establishes that Congress could not have intended that concealment operate to toll the limitations period. Since this equitable doctrine is read into every federal statute of limitations, Holmberg v. Armbrecht, supra, we take it that the evidence of a negative intent on the part of Congress would need to be clear and unambiguous. Our thorough study of the somewhat lengthy history of § 4B convinces us that such evidence is totally lacking. It appears to us, indeed, that the evidence points the other way and establishes that Congress fully intended to apply the fraudulent concealment doctrine to § 4B with full force and effect.
We think the legislative history of prior bills is of little aid in the present inquiry, although we have carefully considered it. With respect to the rejection of proposed discovery provisions in some of the early bills, no clear distinction seems to have been observed in these proposals between a failure to discover due to fraudulent concealment and a mere failure to discover the facts constituting the violation. In consequence, there is nothing in the history of these prior bills of any present materiality, except that there is no suggestion therein that Congress intended to preclude the application of the doctrine of fraudulent concealment.
We shall refer briefly to the legislative history of H.R. 4954, the bill that was finally enacted into law. During the debates in the House, the following colloquy occurred between Congressman Celler and Congressman Patman:
'Mr. PATMAN. Does that 4 years apply to conspiracy cases? Suppose there is a conspiracy, and it is 10 years before the conspiracy is known.
'Mr. CELLER. In the case of conspiracy or fraud, the statute only runs from the time of discovery.
'Mr. PATMAN. From the time of the discovery?
'Mr. CELLER. In conspiracy cases and cases of fraud.
'Mr. PATMAN. And it is not the object or intention to change that at all?
'Mr. CELLER. That is correct.' (101 Cong.Rec. 5129 (1955))
Mr. Celler made substantially the same statement at least twice later during the House discussions of H.R. 4954. 101 Cong.Rec. 5130, 5132-5133 (1955).
The sponsor of the bill was Congressman Celler, who, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had been an active participant in the six-year effort to have this amendment to the Clayton Act enacted. His views are not to be lightly disregarded. Schwegmann Bros. v. Calvert Corp., 341 U.S. 384, 395, 71 S. Ct. 745, 95 L. Ed. 1035 (1951).
These same House debates establish beyond all doubt that Congress intended § 4B as a 'procedural' limitation rather than a 'substantive' limitation. 101 Cong.Rec. 5131 (1955):
'Mr. MURRAY of Illinois. Then am I correct in assuming that this limitation provided by this amendment is strictly a procedural limitation and has nothing to do with substance?
'Mr. QUIGLEY. It was the specific purpose of the committee in reporting this bill to in no way affect the substantive rights of individual litigants. It is simply a procedural change and suggested with the thought of setting up a uniform statute of limitations. That is the sole purpose.'
A thorough study of the legislative history impels us to the conclusion that it was the intent of Congress that the limitations provision in § 4B be construed in the same manner as had the state statutes of limitations, i.e., as purely a statute of repose, affecting no substantive rights, and subject to the well-settled doctrine of fraudulent concealment.
A supplemental brief filed on behalf of defendant I-T-E Circuit Breaker Company urges, in substance, what we take to be the so-called 'plain meaning rule.' That rule obviously has no application here, since it must be understood to be subject to the qualification that the federal concealment doctrine 'is read into every federal statute of limitations.' Holmberg v. Armbrecht, 327 U.S., at p. 397, 66 S. Ct. at p. 585.
Prior to the enactment of § 4B, there was no federal statute of limitations governing private treble damage actions under § 4 of the Clayton Act. State statutes of limitations controlled. We think it clear, and several Courts have so held, that § 4B applies to cases filed after January 7, 1956 (the effective date of the section), whatever the date of accrual of the cause of action. Section 4B provides that no cause of action barred 'under existing law' on the effective date of the section shall be revived by that section. It may be necessary, therefore, when evidence is presented, to look to state law to determine whether TVA's causes of action were so barred.
The question posed by defendants' motions has been before several District Courts in the past few months, and the conclusions reached have varied. In the course of extensive research of the law on this issue, we have reviewed all of the available opinions and orders in these cases.
We conclude that, upon a proper showing, the federal doctrine of fraudulent concealment tolls the running of the statute of limitations contained in § 4B of the Clayton Act.
Defendants' motions for partial summary judgment against the United States and TVA with respect to all Clayton Act claims accruing more than four years prior to the filing of the complaint, will be denied.
Defendants' motions for partial summary judgment against the United States as to all claims under the False Claims Act accruing more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint, will be granted.