RICO CASE GOES TO SUPREME COURT
Brown v. Cassens Transport Co., et al., 546 F.3d 347 (6th Cir. 2008)(NO. 05-2089):
A short summary of this case was previously provided in this blawg on October 29th. At that time, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had reversed the District Court’s decision to dismiss RICO claims against the employer, third party administrator, and alleged "cut off" doctors. Specifically, 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.
Since the time of my last blawg report, the 6th Circuit, on January 5, 2009, denied a Rehearing and a Rehearing En Banc request made by the defendants. As a result, a Petition for Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court was filed on May 6, 2009. Of interest, the application makes the following points:
• RICO claims are preempted by the state workers’ compensation systems.
• The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals invites a flood of RICO suits brought by aggrieved workers' compensation claimants. The attractiveness of RICO's remedies (including treble damages and attorney's fees) and the extraordinarily burdensome nature of RICO discovery assures that an ever increasing volume of workers' compensation litigation will find its way to federal court for decision under federal law.
• If RICO claims are permitted in such situations, federal courts will have to pass on the merits of the underlying workers' compensation claims, creating the potential for overlapping (and possibly conflicting) adjudication of eligibility for workers' compensation benefits.
I will continue to monitor the progress of this Petition and keep you posted.