In 1935, the Attorney General brought a suit in equity to enforce the antitrust laws, charging Columbia Gas & Electric Corporation and its controlled instrumentality, Columbia Oil & Gasoline Corporation, and individual defendants, with having conspired for the benefit of Columbia Gas to shut out operation in the Indiana-Ohio-Michigan area by the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company, which had built a natural-gas pipe line from the Texas fields to the border of Indiana. Panhandle was an offspring of Missouri-Kansas Pipe Line Company, or Mokan, which at the time of the suit owned half its stock and half its junior debt. Columbia Gas, to maintain a practical monopoly of natural gas in this market which Panhandle desired to enter, had acquired through Columbia Oil half of Panhandle's stock, half its junior debt, and its whole senior debt, thus stifling its potential competition, rendering it insolvent, and forcing Mokan into receivership. The suit resulted in a consent decree providing inter alia that Panhandle might become a party to the suit on application, so that it could protect its interests secured under the decree. In 1939, the government deemed the terms of the decree inadequate for its purposes and reopened the proceedings; modifications were proposed in a plan, the terms of which were alleged to defeat the free enterprise of Panhandle, namely in the extension of its operations to sales in Detroit, an extension explicitly provided for in the decree. Mokan, on behalf of Panhandle, moved to intervene but was denied leave. Held, that since Panhandle had a formal status in the decree, its power to intervene was not left to the court's discretion, the general doctrines of intervention not touching the problem, and Mokan through Panhandle must be given the absolute right to intervene. Justice Roberts dissented. Missouri-Kansas Pipe Line Co. v. United States, 312 U.S. 502, 665, 61 S. Ct. 666 (1941).
Gerald M. Lively,
TRADE RESTRAINTS - ANTITRUST LAWS - CONSENT DECREES - RIGHT OF INTERVENTION WHERE DECREE REOPENED,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol40/iss1/27