Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

RICO — Damage to Reputation from Defamation Is Personal, Not Injury to Business or Property, Even If It Results in a Loss of Income

Santana v. Cook Cnty. Board of Review, , 679 F.3d 614 (7th Cir. 2012):

Finally, Santana alleges that the defendants' alleged racketeering activity--including bribery, money laundering, honest-services fraud, and extortion--injured him "in business or property" and therefore violated RICO, 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c). But Santana cannot state a RICO claim for much the same reason that he cannot state a § 1983 claim: He has not plausibly alleged how he could have been injured in his business or property by the defendants' conduct. We have already explained why the defendants' alleged segregation and scrutiny of Santana's clients' submissions, and the defendants' announcement that they would do so in interviews on Fox News, do not constitute an injury to his business or property. For all Santana has alleged, his work as a consultant should be undisturbed. And so while the defendants' statements to Fox News may amount to defamation under Illinois law (although we reach no conclusion about that), that does not advance his claim under § 1964(c); his alleged reputational injury is personal, and that is true even if it could result in a loss of income. See Evans v. City of Chicago, 434 F.3d 916, 927 (7th Cir. 2006). If the defendants had the power to interfere directly with Santana's promised or contracted for work as consultant and then tried to do so, Santana may have been able to allege an injury that meets the § 1964(c) "business or property" requirement. Id. at 928. But (again) that is not this case. Santana has not alleged in his complaint--or explained in any other statement to this court--how his work is not entirely anonymous (from the defendants' perspective), independent, and private and thus beyond the defendants' reach, no matter what their purpose.

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