Oral argument: Nov. 3, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Sept. 2, 2008)
RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS ACT, RICO, TAXES, STANDING, INJURY
Both the State and the City of New York have enacted laws that require the imposition of taxes on all cigarettes sold or used within their boundaries. The City of New York sued a group of Internet cigarette retailers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). The City of New York claimed that the retailers had violated federal and state laws in selling cigarettes to New York residents without charging a tax on tobacco products, constituting a form of consumer fraud as well as tax evasion. The District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the City's claims, holding that the City did not plead that the Internet retailers were an enterprise as defined by RICO. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the judgment of the lower court and held that the State could hold the retailers liable for its loss of tax revenue. The Supreme Court's decision in this case will affect the ability of Internet sites to sell tobacco products at a discounted price, as well as refine the application of RICO in civil suits.