The opinion of the court was delivered by: HANNUM
Presently before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant, The B. F. Goodrich Company (BFG), contends that the complaint, which purports to frame a violation of the federal antitrust laws, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and that the Court is without subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff, Sidney B. Broyer, lacks standing to bring the suit.
For the purpose of a motion to dismiss, the material allegations of the complaint are taken as admitted, and the complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not differentiate between antitrust actions and other types of civil proceedings; thus, notice pleadings suffice to state a claim. Brett v. First Federal Savings & Loan Assoc., 461 F.2d 1155 (5th Cir. 1972); Control Data Corp. v. International Business Machines Corp., 421 F.2d 323 (8th Cir. 1970). Furthermore, the Supreme Court has indicated that antitrust complaints should be liberally construed. Radovich v. National Football League, 352 U.S. 445, 453, 77 S. Ct. 390, 1 L. Ed. 2d 456 (1957).
FACTS AS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT
This action developed from an employment personnel dispute. The plaintiff, a former employee of BFG, asserts in an inartfully drawn complaint that he was injured by certain anticompetitive activities of BFG in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, Title 15 U.S.C. § 1. From March 1971 until July 1974, plaintiff was employed either as territory manager or special accounts representative for BFG in the Philadelphia area, handling the accounts of numerous tire dealers including Hub Tire Company, Joseph Walsh Tire Company, and Reliable Tire Company. Besides supervising these accounts, plaintiff had authority to request price discounts and, in certain circumstances, to set prices; as a result, he was familiar with BFG's pricing system and its application to various Philadelphia area tire dealers.
This action derives from two civil antitrust actions brought against BFG by two tire dealers under plaintiff's supervision. In May 1974, Joseph Walsh Tire Company filed an action, which is basically a Robinson-Patman case, alleging that certain of its large competitors received lower prices from BFG than it did, and that the purpose of BFG's discriminatory pricing system was to give Reliable Tire Company a monopoly of the distribution of defendant's tires in the Philadelphia area.
Early in 1975, Hub Tire Company instituted suit attacking BFG's program of direct sales to large, multi-state consumers on the theory that such direct sales violate sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, section 3 of the Clayton Act, and section 2(a) of the Robinson-Patman Act.
Plaintiff's alleged involvement with these suits was that in 1974 he informed his superiors at BFG of the imminent Hub litigation, and that at a meeting with defendant's personnel and lawyers on October 23, 1974, he "explained the pricing system of BFG as it applied to Walsh and Reliable to the great displeasure of the BFG personnel present."
Shortly thereafter, on November 15, 1974, defendant terminated plaintiff's employment.
Although he was variously informed that his discharge was due to a reduction in staff and because of his poor sales record, plaintiff asserts that the real motivation behind his termination was his:
knowledge of the anti-trust violations of B. F. Goodrich and that it was an effort to discredit his testimony as a witness in the Walsh and Hub litigation and was, therefore, directly related [to] B. F. Goodrich's anti-trust violations and in furtherance of B. F. Goodrich's anti-trust conspiracies.
Pursuant to Title 15 U.S.C. § 15, Sidney Broyer seeks treble damages for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of his discharge.
In the instant motion to dismiss the complaint, BFG asserts that plaintiff's claim pursuant to section 4 of the Clayton Act, Title 15 U.S.C. § 15, is not a justiciable controversy within the Court's jurisdiction because the plaintiff lacks standing to sue.
Section 4 of the Clayton Act states, inter alia, that:
any person who shall be injured in his business or property by reason of anything forbidden in the antitrust laws may sue therefor . . . and shall recover threefold damages by him sustained.
Although this language is sweeping, the statute has been construed so as to provide standing only to those individuals whose protection is the fundamental purpose of the antitrust laws. Malamud v. Sinclair Oil Corp., 521 F.2d 1142 (6th Cir. 1975); In re Multidistrict Vehicle Air Pollution M.D.L. No. 31, 481 F.2d 122 (9th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1045, 94 S. Ct. 551, 38 L. Ed. 2d 336 (1973); Calderone Enterprises Corp. v. United Artists Theatre Circuit, 454 F.2d 1292 (2d Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 406 U.S. 930, 92 S. Ct. 1776, 32 L. Ed. 2d 132 (1972). Judicial approaches to standing under this statute have not been totally consistent, and the law in this area continues to develop,
but the intent has been constant. As the Supreme Court stated with evident approval in Hawaii v. Standard Oil Co., 405 U.S. 251, 263 n. 14, 92 S. Ct. 885, 891, 31 L. Ed. ...