|VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. V. LAW OFFICESOF CURTIS V. TRINKO, LLP (02-682) 540 U.S. 398 (2004)
305 F.3d 89, reversed and remanded.
[ Scalia ]
[ Stevens ]
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC., PETITIONER v. LAW OFFICES OF CURTIS V. TRINKO, LLP
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
[January 13, 2004]
Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Souter and Justice Thomas join, concurring in the judgment.
In complex cases it is usually wise to begin by deciding whether the plaintiff has standing to maintain the action. Respondent, the plaintiff in this case, is a local telephone service customer of AT&T. Its complaint alleges that it has received unsatisfactory service because Verizon has engaged in conduct that adversely affects AT&Ts ability to serve its customers, in violation of §2 of the Sherman Act. 15 U.S.C. § 2. Respondent seeks from Verizon treble damages, a remedy that §4 of the Clayton Act makes available to any person who has been injured in his business or property. 15 U.S.C. § 15. The threshold question presented by the complaint is whether, assuming the truth of its allegations, respondent is a person within the meaning of §4.
Respondent would unquestionably be such a person if we interpreted the text of the statute literally. But we have eschewed a literal reading of §4, particularly in cases in which there is only an indirect relationship between the defendants alleged misconduct and the plaintiffs asserted injury. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 529535 (1983). In such cases, the importance of avoiding either the risk of duplicate recoveries on the one hand, or the danger of complex apportionment of damages on the other, weighs heavily against a literal reading of §4. Id., at 543544. Our interpretation of §4 has thus adhered to Justice Holmes observation that the general tendency of the law, in regard to damages at least, is not to go beyond the first step. Southern Pacific Co. v. Darnell-Taenzer Lumber Co., 245 U.S. 531, 533 (1918).
I would not go beyond the first step in this case. Although respondent contends that its injuries were, like the plaintiffs injuries in Blue Shield of Va. v. McCready, 457 U.S. 465, 479 (1982), the very means by which [Verizon] sought to achieve its illegal ends, it remains the case that whatever antitrust injury respondent suffered because of Verizons conduct was purely derivative of the injury that AT&T suffered. And for that reason, respondents suit, unlike McCready, runs both the risk of duplicative recoveries and the danger of complex apportionment of damages. The task of determining the monetary value of the harm caused to respondent by AT&Ts inferior service, the portion of that harm attributable to Verizons misconduct, whether all or just some of such possible misconduct was prohibited by the Sherman Act, and what offset, if any, should be allowed to make room for a recovery that would make AT&T whole, is certain to be daunting. AT&T, as the direct victim of Verizons alleged misconduct, is in a far better position than respondent to vindicate the public interest in enforcement of the antitrust laws. Denying a remedy to AT&Ts customer is not likely to leave a significant antitrust violation undetected or unremedied, and will serve the strong interest in keeping the scope of complex antitrust trials within judicially manageable limits. Associated Gen. Contractors, 459 U.S., at 543.
In my judgment, our reasoning in Associated General Contractors requires us to reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals. I would not decide the merits of the §2 claim unless and until such a claim is advanced by either AT&T or a similarly situated competitive local exchange carrier.