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Friday, March 19, 2010

The Limited Application of a RICO Claim

A Federal District Court in Michigan has dismissed a RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] claim against Sedwick Claims Management Services. The plaintiffs alleged that the insurance company, "....'engaged in a scheme to defraud employees of the minimum wages and fringe benefits to which they were entitled' under the McNamara-O'Hara Services Contract Act, 41 U.S.C. 351,et seq. (SCA), 'in violation of the civil provisions of ... RICO.'"

In dismissing the case, the court reasoned, "an injured worker may not use RICO as an 'end run' around the exclusive procedures and remedies prescribed by the WDCA [Michigan's Workers Disability Compensation Act] -Defendants contend that Plaintiffs have filed this action in an attempt to convert their workers compensation disputes into a federal RICO case-the basis of which is the Defendants' allegedly-fraudulent violation of the WDCA. Plaintiffs' effort to convert their disputes over benefits into RICO claims, while creative, must be rejected. Plaintiffs' RICO claims seek to expand RICO far beyond its intended reach. As the federal courts have repeatedly held, a plaintiff may not use a RICO claim as an 'end run' around a comprehensive, specialized, and exclusive administrative scheme like the scheme established by the WDCA. Yet that is precisely what these Plaintiffs seek to do."

"....RICO was never intended to create a path into courts for litigants who would otherwise be limited to exclusive administrative remedies and procedures, and subject to strict damages limitations. The Court finds that Plaintiffs may not use their RICO claim to reform Michigan's workers' compensation law-allowing them to do so would be an unwarranted intrusion into Michigan state law and procedure."

Jackson v. Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., 2010 WL 931864, E.D. Mich. 2010, March 11, 2010.

Click here to read more RICO claims and workers' compensation.