RICO AS ALTERNATIVE TO OUTRAGE
Brown v. Cassens Transport Co., et al., 6th Cir. 2008:
On October 23, 2008, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in Brown v. Cassens Transport Co., et al., 6th Cir. 2008. In Brown, several injured workers brought a Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claim against their employer, Crawford & Company and one of many alleged "cut off" doctors. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants deliberately selected and paid unqualified doctors to give fraudulent medical opinions that would support the denial of workers’ compensation benefits, and that the defendants ignored other medical evidence in denying them benefits. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants made fraudulent communications amongst themselves and to the plaintiffs by mail and wire in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343. The district court dismissed the RICO claim and the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). On appeal, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court decision to dismiss the RICO claim. The Court affirmed the dismissal of the IIED claim, however, because the defendants’ conduct could not be deemed outrageous under Michigan law. Nationally speaking, this case will likely lead to more RICO claims being filed. In Alabama, however, plaintiffs will likely choose to forego their rights under RICO in order to pursue their claims in state court where their odds of victory are generally perceived to be better.