Response or Comment
The case of Rohlf v. Kasemeer et al., decided by the Supreme Court of Iowa, November 18, 1908, and reported in 118 N. W. Rep., p. 276, although primarily upon the construction of a local statute, involves a question of general interest. The plaintiff therein, who is a physician, together with thirteen others of the same profession, all residing and practicing in the same county, entered into an agreement, combination or understanding, the terms of which are not given, but the object of which was to fix and maintain the fees and charges to be exacted for medical and surgical services in said county. The code of the state provided that "any corporation organized under the laws of this or any other state or country for transacting or conducting any kind of business in this state, or any partnership, association or individual, creating, entering into or becoming a member of, or party to, any pool, trust, agreement, contract, combination, confederation or understanding with any other corporation, partnership, association, or individual to regulate or fix the price of any article of merchandise or commodity, or to fix or limit the amount or quantity of any article, commodity, or merchandise to be manufactured, mined, produced or sold in this state, shall be guilty of conspiracy." The plaintiff and the others who were parties with him in the said agreement, were indicted by a grand jury of the county for entering into a combination to fix and maintain fees contrary to the provisions of the statute hereinbefore quoted. The plaintiff, having been arrested under the indictment, brought habeas corpus proceedings to secure his release from custody, claiming undue and illegal restraint of his liberty, for the reason that no offense known to the laws of the state was charged in the indictment, and for the further reason that "if there be a law forbidding such acts as are charged against him, it is unconstitutional and void, in that it deprives him of his liberty, prevents him from acquiring or possessing property, and deprives him of his safety and the pursuit of his happiness * * * and of the right of contract and of the equal protection of the laws." The trial court discharged the plaintiff and released him from the custody of the sheriff by whom he was held.
Hutchins, Harry B. "Combination among Physicians to Fix Prices for Professional Services." Mich. L. Rev. 7 (1909): 237-9.