Friday, September 14, 2012

Fitzgerald v. Chrysler Corporation case brief

Fitzgerald v. Chrysler Corporation
        1. Facts: Chrysler sold to its consumers of its motor vehicles extended warranties promising all sorts of warranty protection that they had no intention of providing. They are charged under the RICO statutes
        2. Issue: Whether Chrysler can be said to have been “associated with an enterprise” to have “conducted… such enterprises affairs through” wire and mail frauds.
        3. The P tries to paint a picture by arguing that Chrysler is an enterprise… the allegation is that the affiliates and agents of Chrysler participate directly/indirectly in the sale of the warranty, so that they constitute an enterprise… the court points out though that if the P is right, then this would result in every RICO case against a corporation (that demonstrates a pattern of fraud), to result in liability. The court says this is outside the scope of the intention of RICO.
        4. The court imagines the prototype RICO case, then compares that to the present case: the prototypical case is one in which a person bent on criminal activity seizes control of a previously legitimate firm and uses the firm’s resources, contacts, facilities, and appearance of legitimacy to perpetrate more, and less easily discovered, criminal acts then he could do in his own person, that is, without channeling his criminal activities through the enterprise that he has taken over. In this case, the P tries to apply RICO to a free-standing corporation merely because Chrysler does business through agents, as virtually every manufacturer does, so it is much different than the typical case…. The result would be to encourage vertical integration of companies, which is clearly not the goal of RICO… therefore the court finds that Chrysler does not comprise an enterprise through its agents and employees.

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