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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Federal RICO Claim Not Preempted by a State Workers Compensation Act

The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a landmark case of widespread significance,  has held that a State may not preempt a Federal cause of action under the RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] statute by asserting that workers' compensation claims are exclusive to State jurisdiction. In long and convoluted history, workers in Michigan have asserted that their employer and its workers' compensation carrier, Crawford & Company, and its experts, ie. "cut off doctor," sought to conspire to defeat their pending claims, "property interest," for benefits under the Michigan state workers' compensation act.

Click here to read: Brown et al. v. Cassens Transport Co. et al., 6th Cir Ct of Appeals, Decided, April 6, 2012 (Michigan).

"The flaw with the defendants’ argument is that the predicate offense for the RICO action is mail fraud, not the denial of worker’s compensation. “The gravamen of [a] RICO cause of action is not the violation of state law, but rather certain conduct, illegal under state law, which, when combined with an impact on commerce, constitutes a violation of federal law. Therefore, it is not alleged that [the defendants are] subject to ‘liability under’ the [state law]; their liability . . . stems from RICO.” Williams v. Stone, 109 F.3d 890, 895 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 956 (1997). The district court here erred when it stated that this case does not “involve[] a separate and independent tort (theft or conversion or some similar claim)” because the plaintiffs “cannot disentangle their RICO claim from their underlying claim for benefits.” 743 F. Supp. 2d at 666, 668."

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

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