High Court To Hear Don King Case

In the Ring With Don King Secondhand Smoke in the Sky A ‘Tricked’ Confession

In the Ring With Don King The Supreme Court stepped into the boxing ring today, agreeing to hear a fight promoter’s argument that he can sue rival promoter Don King for racketeering.

The high court will use the case to clarify when people can be sued for allegedly conducting racketeering activity through a business.

The federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law allows people to file civil lawsuits, seeking triple damages, against people accused of conducting an “enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity.”

Boxing promoter Cedric Kushner filed such a lawsuit against King in New York in 1998 that accused him of interfering with Kushner’s contract with boxer Hasim Rahman.

The lawsuit, which sought about $12 million in damages, said King paid Rahman not to go through with a fight that had been arranged through Rahman’s contract with Kushner.

A federal judge dismissed the case, saying the RICO law required the person and the enterprise to be “distinct” from each other.

King is president and sole shareholder of Don King Productions.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. King was “an employee acting within the scope of his authority” at Don King Productions, the court said last July.

In the appeal acted on today, Kushner’s lawyer said the racketeering law was aimed at employees who “conduct the employer’s affairs as a vehicle to accomplish racketeering activity.” Under the 2nd Circuit Court’s ruling, “an organized crime family would merely need to incorporate to escape … liability altogether,” Kushner’s lawyer said.

King’s lawyer said the law aimed to attack the infiltration of organized crime into legitimate organizations. The appeals court’s ruling “keeps in check yet another unwarranted expansion of RICO treble-damage liability,” the promoter’s lawyer said.

The case is Cedric Kushner Promotions vs. King, 00-549.

Secondhand Smoke in the Skies

The high court today let a flight attendant sue an airline for harm from secondhand smoke.

On a 6-3 vote, the justices declined to hear an appeal from Northwest Airlines arguing that a federal law deregulating the airline industry pre-empts state statutes requiring a healthy work environment.

Northwest’s lawyers said the lawsuit, brought by flight attendant Julie Duncan of Seattle, would effectively allow state regulation of a “service” provided by Northwest on its trans-Pacific flights.

Julie Duncan of Seattle sued Northwest, claiming she suffered lung problems and chronic infections related to secondhand smoke.

The suit, which sought class-action status, said Northwest violated its duty under Washington state law to provide a safe and healthy working environment.

Northwest prohibited smoking on domestic flights in 1988, before the ban was required by federal law, but continued to allow smoking on flights to and from Japan for another decade. The airline said it did so to compete with other airlines that let passengers smoke.

A federal judge dismissed Duncan’s lawsuit, saying that allowing her claim to proceed would amount to allowing state regulation of a “service” provided by Northwest on its trans-Pacific flights.

The 1978 Airline Deregulation Act pre-empts all state lawsuits related to airline rates, routes or services.

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