RJR Nabisco v. European Community

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Corporations
  • Date Filed: June 20, 2016
  • Case #: 15-138
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY and THOMAS, JJ., joined, and in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II, and III. GINSBURG, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, dissenting in part, and dissenting from the judgment, in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, dissenting in part, and dissenting from the judgment. SOTOMAYOR, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) applies to certain international situations but does not permit recovery for civil damages in the U.S. for injuries that occurred outside of the U.S.

Respondents alleged that petitioners are involved in a racketeering scheme consisting of selling drugs in European nations. Specifically, respondents have alleged that the petitioners have laundered money, lent support to terrorist organizations, committed mail fraud and violated the Travel Act thus violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The District Court Dismissed the claims and the Second Circuit reinstated them. Petitioners argue that RICO does not apply to foreign actions or injuries. There is no presumption of international application for United States laws without clear congressional intent. There is a two step process for determining this intent. First, the courts look to see if the presumption has been rebutted and second, whether there is a domestic application of the violation. The Court held that RICO applies to some international actions. Not all foreign enterprises will satisfy this analysis, however there are logical rationales for applying RICO internationally. Next, the Court held that RICO does not permit private causes of action for injuries which occur entirely outside the United States. This would upset the fragile balance of international jurisdictions. It was not persuasive that other U.S. laws allow for private causes of actions for events occurring outside the U.S. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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