In the 1990s, DuCoa, L. P., made choline chloride, a B- complex vitamin essential for the growth and development of animals. DuCoa, Bioproducts, Inc., and Chinook Group, Ltd., each had one- third of the U. S. market for choline chloride. To stabilize the market and keep the price of the vitamin higher than it would otherwise have been, the companies agreed to fix the price and allocate market share by deciding which of them would offer the lowest price to each customer. At times, however, the companies disregarded the agreement. During an increase in competitive activity in August 1997, Daniel Rose became president of DuCoa. The next month, a subordinate advised him of the conspiracy. By February 1998, Rose had begun to implement a strategy to persuade DuCoa’s competitors to rejoin the conspiracy. By April, the three companies had reallocated their market shares and increased their prices. In June, the U. S. Department of Justice began to investigate allegations of price fixing in the vitamin market. Ultimately, a federal district court convicted Rose of conspiracy to violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
(a) The court “ enhanced” Rose’s sentence to thirty months’ imprisonment, one year of supervised release, and a $ 20,000 fine based, among other things, on his role as “ a manager or supervisor” in the conspiracy. Rose appealed this enhancement to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Was it fair to increase Rose’s sentence on this ground? Why or why not?
(b) Was Rose’s participation in the conspiracy unethical? If so, how might Rose have behaved ethically instead? If not, could any of the participants’ conduct be considered unethical? Explain.