Incidental Contacts Insufficient For Jurisdiction over Essentially Foreign Conspiracy

The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2013 - Criminal Law

Devincci Salah Hourani v. Mirtchev (U.S. District Court, D.D.C., May 8, 2013)

On a motion to dismiss Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) claims arising from a Kazakhstan-based conspiracy, the D.C. district court held that plaintiffs’ alleged conspiracy had insufficient domestic contacts to fall within RICO’s scope. The district court adopted the approach a majority of courts have taken to evaluate extraterritoriality in RICO claims, focusing on the alleged pattern of racketeering activity, rather than using an alternative approach focused on the location of the “enterprise.” The court held that the alleged domestic connections—the American citizenship of one plaintiff, the location of one defendant enterprise, and the U.S. accounts used in money laundering—were insufficient to sustain a RICO claim under that test. Because the conspiracy took place almost entirely in Kazakhstan, the court dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice.

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