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Reason to repeal RICO, #487

A Chicago lawyer has been enjoying surprising success with lawsuits accusing employers of violations of RICO, the federal civil racketeering law, because of their alleged hiring of illegal alien workers. Howard W. Foster's theories have gotten the green light from three federal appeals courts. Defendants in the suits include poultry giant Tyson Foods and rugmaker Mohawk Industries; the suits usually represent (or seek to represent) a class of lawful workers put at a disadvantage by the unlawful hiring, but in one case a business competitor was the plaintiff. Is there some reason, we wonder, by which such suits could not be extended down the economic ladder to individual homeowners who have engaged in a pattern or practice over the years of hiring undocumented landscapers or housekeepers? (Gary Young, "Forging a New Use for Civil RICO", National Law Journal, Jul. 9). See also Overlawyered, Dec. 13-14, 2001. Update Jul. 17, 2005: 11th Circuit allows suit to proceed; Overlawyered, Jan. 5, 2006, Supreme Court grants review.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.