FRANCINE SHULMAN, ET AL V. TODD KAPLAN, ET AL, No. 20-56265 (9th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
The question presented in this case is whether Appellants, a cannabis entrepreneur and two cannabis businesses, have standing to bring claims arising pursuant to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), based on alleged harms to their cannabis business and related property. The district court granted Appellees’ motion to dismiss with prejudice, holding that Appellants lacked standing to bring their RICO claims. The court also dismissed Appellants’ Lanham Act claims on standing grounds as well as their state law claims, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. Appellants appealed the district court’s order only as to their RICO claims.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. The panel held that while Appellants had Article III standing, they lacked statutory standing under RICO. As to Article III standing, the panel held that Appellants satisfied the injury requirement, which requires a showing of an invasion of a legally protected interest because cannabis-related property interests are recognized under California law. Appellees argued that Appellants’ alleged injuries were not redressable because they related to a cannabis business, which was illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. The panel held that the fact that Appellants sought damages for economic harms related to cannabis was not relevant to whether a court could, theoretically, fashion a remedy to redress their injuries. Further, the panel held that Appellants lacked statutory standing to bring their claims under RICO Section 1964(c). The panel concluded that the statutory purpose of RICO and the congressional intent animating its passage conflicted with the California laws recognizing a business and property interest in cannabis.