Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

RICO — Theft Coupled with Continuous Use of Stolen Property ≠ Pattern

From Spindletop Drilling Co. v. Lewis, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70889 (W.D. Ark. July 14, 2010):

Spindletop alleges that, after refusing to sell certain storage tanks to Lewis, Lewis and/or Lewis Louisiana Properties removed four storage tanks from Spindletop's well in Clairborne Parish, Louisiana (the Waller-Taylor Well) and transported these tanks from Louisiana to Arkansas using Defendant Barnette's equipment transportation services. Spindletop maintains that Defendants Lewis and/or Lewis Louisiana Properties converted these storage tanks for use in their salt water disposal business. Spindletop further alleges that, at the time of removal, the tanks contained quantities of stored oil and gas which were converted by State Line Vacuum Services for its own use.***

Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, it is clear that no relief can be granted based upon these RICO allegations. While the Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged one or more predicate acts by Defendant, it has not shown that these acts constitute a continuous pattern of racketeering activity. Plaintiff's complaint outlines two acts of conversion: (1) the tanks that were transported by the defendant from Louisiana to Arkansas, and (2) the oil and gas that remained in the tanks when they were transported. Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendants have plans to continue stealing tanks, oil, or gas from their company. A stolen item which leads to a singular injury to Plaintiff does not create a "threat of continuous racketeering activity" simply because the stolen item is put to use by Defendant. Essentially, this case involves a single transaction, involving one victim, taking place over a short period of time; this type of civil dispute is not a cause of action that RICO was intended to govern. 1

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