This is a treble damage antitrust case brought against six corporate defendants and four individual defendants. Three of the corporate defendants, Ogden Corporation (hereinafter "Ogden") and two of its subsidiaries, Ogden Metals, Inc. (hereinafter "Ogden Metals") and Ogden Management Corporation (hereinafter "Ogden Management"), have moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that venue is improper as to them, or in the alternative, to quash the return of service. A similar motion has been filed on behalf of two of the four individual defendants. Following discovery, plaintiffs conceded that venue is improper as to Ogden Metals. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss as to Ogden Metals will be granted. The motions as to the other corporate and individual defendants requires more detailed analysis.
I. Motions to Dismiss for Improper Venue.
A. Corporate Defendants.
Ogden, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New York City, sits on top of a somewhat complex corporate hierarchy. Ogden Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ogden, owns the entire stock of defendant Ogden American Corporation, (hereinafter "Ogden American") and ABC Consolidated Corporation (hereinafter "ABC Consolidated"). Neither Ogden nor Ogden Management is an "inhabitant" of or is "found" in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under Section 12 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 22,
which governs venue as to the corporate defendants. The plaintiffs contend, however, that each of the above "transacts business" in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, either directly or through subsidiary agents, so that the requirements of the venue statute are satisfied. Because we think the "direct contracts" outlined by the plaintiffs are insufficient to show that Ogden and Ogden Management transact business in this District,
we must decide whether these companies can be said to transact business through their subsidiaries within the meaning of the statute.
It has become clear that the effect of Section 12 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 22, was to liberalize the venue requirements as to corporate defendants in antitrust cases. Eastman Kodak Co. v. Southern Photo Materials Co., 273 U.S. 359, 71 L. Ed. 684, 47 S. Ct. 400 (1927); United States v. Scophony Corporations, 333 U.S. 795, 92 L. Ed. 1091, 68 S. Ct. 855 (1948). In the latter case, the Court declared that in determining whether a corporation in fact transacts business in the district where venue is sought, "the practical and broader business conception of engaging in any substantial business operations" was to be substituted for "the highly technical distinction theretofore glossed upon 'found' for filling that term with particularized meaning, or emptying it, under the translation of 'carrying on business'" 335 U.S. at page 807.
In this spirit, a growing number of district courts have recognized that where a parent company has sufficient control over a subsidiary, the parent company is held to be transacting business in the district by reason of the activities of the subsidiary. In Waldron v. British Petroleum Co., Ltd., 149 F. Supp. 830 (S.D.N.Y. 1957), a California petroleum company was held to be transacting business in the Southern District of New York. Certain language in that case appears particularly apropos here and we quote it at length:
"A person would have to be blind to the economic facts of business life if he did not recognize that the activities of the subsidiaries in this District are activities which in another less elaborate corporate setup would be conducted directly by branch offices or agents within the District. It is Socal, and not the subsidiaries, which is the defendant in the present action. What is Socal? It is a large aggregation of invested capital which transacts its business through officers, agents, employees, and through subsidiaries, which in the drilling, production and marketing of oil operate as agents, employees or branch offices would operate. Does the fact that this large business entity, for tax reasons or otherwise, decides to fragmentize its operations into numerous corporate subsidiaries, make the resulting operations of the subsidiaries any the less a part of transaction of business by Socal?" 149 F. Supp. at page 834.
"A corporation may be a fiction of the law but there is no reason to carry the fiction to the extreme of saying that a corporation which has wholly owned subsidiaries performing services in the local jurisdiction which ordinarily would be performed by service employees, or making sales which ordinarily would be made by a sales department, is in fact not transacting business in that jurisdiction, particularly when the entire corporate setup of the defendant shows that it is designed to operate to a substantial degree through separate corporate entities responding to the wishes and directions of the parent and providing the revenues sought by the parent. We would be exalting fiction over fact if we were to conclude that under those circumstances the parent company was not in fact transacting business in this District through the instrumentality of its wholly owned subsidiaries." 149 F. Supp. at page 835.