DAMAGE ANTITRUST ACTIONS (1965) § 5.04. All of these matters have been held in abeyance pending determination of the motion to stay. In light of the denial of defendants' request for the stay, these matters will be considered by this court at the request of all interested parties.
It has not been questioned that it is within the ambit of this court's discretion to grant or refuse the request for a stay. Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 81 L. Ed. 153, 57 S. Ct. 163 (1936). In Landis, Mr. Justice Cardozo pointed out that the party requesting a stay " . . . must make out a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go forward, if there is even a fair possibility that the stay . . . will work damage to someone else." Id. at 255. Certainly any inequity faced by the defendants in these actions must be counter-balanced by the hardships and inequities facing plaintiffs if a broad stay of all proceedings were to be imposed.
At the outset, it becomes critical to note that the private treble damage action was designed by Congress to serve a dual purpose. Congress intended that those injured by antitrust violations recover their damages. In addition, the treble recovery mechanism was " . . . intended to use private self-interest as a means of enforcement . . ." of the antitrust laws. Bruce's Juices v. American Can Co., 330 U.S. 743, 751, 91 L. Ed. 1219, 67 S. Ct. 1015 (1947). Accord, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. v. New Jersey Wood Finishing Co., 381 U.S. 311, 318, 85 S. Ct. 1473, 14 L. Ed. 2d 405 (1965), where the Supreme Court commented: "Congress has expressed its belief that private antitrust litigation is one of the surest weapons for effective enforcement of the antitrust laws." See, generally, REPORT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE ANTITRUST LAWS (1956) 378, and, Timberlake, supra., § 3.01. From the specific enforcement role given the private treble damage plaintiff by Congress, it is easy to discern a Congressional interest in the expedited trials of such actions. It would be anomalous to conclude otherwise. The antitrust laws, themselves, function as the Congressional blueprint designed to keep the American economy operating within the free enterprise guidelines mapped out under these statutes. Any threat to the free enterprise footings of our national economic superstructure, constitutes, in Congress' judgment, an immediate and serious threat to our national welfare. The strong incentive of triple recovery encourages private litigants to vigorously enforce the antitrust laws. Against this backdrop, unwarranted stays of proceedings stymie and offset any incentive otherwise contained in the possibility of triple recovery. Delay tends to discourage prosecution of civil litigation. As time passes, memories of witnesses fade. The inherent value of a claim for damages, enhanced by potential triple recovery, diminishes.
Defendants have outlined two principal arguments in support of their motion for a stay. Initially, defendants contend that a stay of these proceedings, pending the outcome of the criminal actions in the Western District, is necessary to avoid prejudicing their right to a fair trial in the criminal action by a premature disclosure of their defense, or a possible violation of their privilege against self-incrimination. Defendants also maintain that the stay is necessary to avoid the burden of responding to the extensive discovery proposed by plaintiffs, especially when such discovery may hamper the preparation of an adequate defense in the criminal trial, and when much of the discovery may be rendered unnecessary after the trial of the criminal actions. Each of these contentions merits separate discussion.
Defendants have strenuously argued that unless a stay were entered, it would be impossible for them to obtain a fair trial in the criminal actions underway in Pittsburgh. To bolster their argument, defendants have placed pivotal reliance on the district court decision in United States v. Simon, 262 F. Supp. 64 (S.D.N.Y. 1966).
Defendants argue that the Simon decision stands for the proposition that even if individual criminal defendants do not wish to assert their privilege against self-incrimination, the narrow discovery principles of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure will act as a bar to discovery, in a related civil action. Urging the soundness of such a result, the defendants argue that a stay of all proceedings will guarantee that their privileges, as outlined in Simon, will be protected. Defendants' reliance on Simon is misplaced.
The district court judge trying the criminal action in Simon issued an injunction blocking civil depositions of the individual defendants in a related civil action, where these same defendants were also being sued.
The subject matter of both the criminal indictment and civil complaint was identical, stemming from the same alleged corporate fraud. The defendants were certified public accountants who did not want to assert their privilege against self-incrimination because of the resulting stigma upon their professional conduct. The district court enjoined the civil discovery during the pendency of the criminal litigation, summarizing the relevant authorities in the following fashion:
The problem is by no means novel. It has been consistently held that where both civil and criminal proceedings arise out of the same or related transactions an objecting party is generally entitled to a stay of discovery in the civil action until disposition of the criminal matter. This has been true whether the defendant in the criminal case seeks to use the civil rules to obtain disclosure of the Government's evidence, or whether the Government seeks a similar advantage to secure evidence not otherwise available to the prosecution. 262 F. Supp. at 73.