Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp.

U.S. Supreme Court

Aspen Skiing v. Aspen Highlands Skiing, 472 U.S. 585 (1985)Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp.No. 84-510Argued March 27, 1985Decided June 19, 1985472 U.S. 585CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THETENTH CIRCUITSyllabusRespondent, which owns one of the four major mountain facilities for downhill skiing at Aspen, Colo., filed a treble-damages action in Federal District Court in 1979 against petitioner, which owns the other three major facilities, alleging that petitioner had monopolized the market for downhill skiing services at Aspen in violation of § 2 of the Sherman Act. The evidence showed that in earlier years, when there were only three major facilities operated by three independent companies (including both petitioner and respondent), each competitor offered both its own tickets for daily use of its mountain and an interchangeable 6-day all-Aspen ticket, which provided convenience to skiers who visited the resort for weekly periods but preferred to remain flexible about what mountain they might ski each day. Petitioner, upon acquiring its second of the three original facilities and upon opening the fourth, also offered, during most of the ski seasons, a weekly multiarea ticket covering only its mountains, but eventually the all-Aspen ticket outsold petitioner’s own multiarea ticket. Over the years, the method for allocation of revenues from the all-Aspen ticket to the competitors developed into a system based on random-sample surveys to determine the number of skiers who used each mountain. However, for the 1977-1978 ski season, respondent, in order to secure petitioner’s agreement to continue to sell all-Aspen tickets, was required to accept a fixed percentage of the ticket’s revenues. When respondent refused to accept a lower percentage — considerably below its historical average based on usage — for the next season, petitioner discontinued its sale of the all-Aspen ticket; instead sold 6-day tickets featuring only its own mountains; and took additional actions that made it extremely difficult for respondent to market its own multiarea package to replace the joint offering. Respondent’s share of the market declined steadily thereafter. The jury returned a verdict against petitioner, fixing respondent’s actual damages, and the court entered a judgment for treble damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting petitioner’s contention that there cannot be a requirement of cooperation between competitors, even when one possesses monopoly powers.