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Amicus Curie Brief on Civil RICO Filed by Hollingsworth LLP Helps Catch Supreme Court’s Attention

news | November 28, 2023

The civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c), was originally enacted as a tool for fighting organized crime. The civil RICO statute allows recovery of treble damages for persons injured in their “business or property.” Over the years, it has been extended far beyond its original intent with plaintiffs attempting to use the statute to recover for injuries which have no connection to organized crime.

The Second Circuit in Horn v. Medical Marijuana, Inc., 80 F.4th 130 (2023), held that a civil RICO treble damages claim can be filed for economic injuries flowing from a personal injury, joining the Ninth Circuit. Three circuit courts of appeal have previously held to the contrary and, thus, the Second Circuit’s decision deepened the circuit split. Hollingsworth LLP, as co-counsel for the Atlantic Legal Foundation (“ALF”) and the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy, recently filed an amicus brief in Horn v. Medical Marijuana, Inc., No. 23-365, in support of defendant’s cert petition urging the Supreme Court to review the circuit split and the Second Circuit’s decision to allow a civil RICO claim to be filed for economic damages flowing from a personal injury. Without review by the U.S. Supreme Court, plaintiffs will continue to be encouraged to forum shop to seek treble damages and circumvent various states’ tort reform measures as the civil RICO statute has broad venue and jurisdictional provisions.

Plaintiff Horn initially waived his right to respond to the cert petition but, following the filing of the amicus brief (the only one filed), the Supreme Court has now ordered plaintiff to file a response, which is due on December 18, 2023.

Hollingsworth LLP continues to be at the forefront of many critical legal issues and to advocate for legal rulings that support our clients. Counsel for the amicus brief included Hollingsworth LLP partners, William J. Cople III, Joe G. Hollingsworth, and Elyse A. Shimada.

Atlantic Legal Foundation (ALF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest law firm with a demonstratable history of advancing the rule of law in courts and before administrative agencies by advocating for limited and efficient government, free enterprise, individual liberty, sound science and effective education through school choice and parental rights. ALF provides effective and decisive legal representation, without fee, to parents, scientists, educators, and other individuals, corporations, and trade associations. Its cases in the past few years alone have resulted in the protection of the rights of thousands of school children, employees, independent businessmen, and entrepreneurs. In case after case, ALF brings about favorable resolutions for individuals and corporations who continue to be challenged by those who use the legal process to deny fundamental rights and liberties.

DRI Center for Law and Public Policy is the public policy “think tank” and advocacy voice of DRI, an international organization of approximately 16,000 attorneys who represent businesses in civil litigation. DRI’s mission includes enhancing the skills, effectiveness, and professionalism of defense lawyers; promoting appreciation of the role of defense lawyers in the civil justice system; and anticipating and addressing substantive and procedural issues germane to defense lawyers and the fairness of the civil justice system. The Center participates as amicus curiae in the Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals, and state appellate courts in an ongoing effort to promote fairness, consistency, and efficiency in the civil justice system.