Sedima, S.P.R.L. v. Imrex Co., Inc. - 473 U.S. 479 (1985)
U.S. Supreme Court
Sedima, S.P.R.L. v. Imrex Co., Inc., 473 U.S. 479 (1985)
Sedima, S.P.R.L. v. Imrex Co., Inc.
Argued April 17, 1985
Decided July 1, 1985
473 U.S. 479
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, which is directed at "racketeering activity" -- defined in § 1961(1) to encompass, inter alia, acts "indictable" under specific federal criminal provisions, including mail and wire fraud -- provides in § 1964(c) for a private civil action to recover treble damages by any person injured in his business or property "by reason of a violation of section 1962." Section 1962(c) prohibits conducting or participating in the conduct of an enterprise "through a pattern of racketeering activity." Petitioner corporation, which had entered into a joint business venture with respondent company and which believed that it was being cheated by alleged overbilling, filed suit in Federal District Court, asserting, inter alia, RICO claims against respondent company and two of its officers (also respondents) under § 1964(c) for alleged violations of § 1962(c), based on predicate acts of mail and wire fraud. The court dismissed the RICO counts for failure to state a claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, under § 1964(c), a RICO plaintiff must allege a "racketeering injury" -- an injury "caused by an activity which RICO was designed to deter," not just an injury occurring as a result of the predicate acts themselves -- and that the complaint was also defective for not alleging that respondents had been convicted of the predicate acts of mail and wire fraud, or of a RICO violation.
1. There is no requirement that a private action under § 1964(c) can proceed only against a defendant who has already been convicted of a predicate act or of a RICO violation. A prior conviction requirement is not supported by RICO's history, its language, or considerations of policy. To the contrary, every indication is that no such requirement exists. Accordingly, the fact that respondents have not been convicted under RICO or the federal mail and wire fraud statutes does not bar petitioner's action. Pp. 473 U. S. 488-493.
2. Nor is there any requirement that, in order to maintain a private action under § 1964(c), the plaintiff must establish a "racketeering injury," not merely an injury resulting from the predicate acts themselves. A reading of the statute belies any "racketeering injury" requirement. If the defendant engages in a pattern of racketeering activity in a manner
forbidden by § 1962, and the racketeering activities injure the plaintiff in his business or property, the plaintiff has a claim under § 1964(c). There is no room in the statutory language for an additional, amorphous "racketeering injury" requirement. Where the plaintiff alleges each element of a violation of § 1962, the compensable injury necessarily is the harm caused by predicate acts sufficiently related to constitute a pattern, for the essence of the violation is the commission of those acts in connection with the conduct of an enterprise. Pp. 473 U. S. 493-500.
741 F.2d 482, reversed and remanded.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined, post, p. 473 U. S. 500. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 473 U. S. 523.