The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge
This matter is now before the Court on the United States' Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment Regarding Defendants' Affirmative Defenses That
the RICO Claims and Sought Relief Are Prohibited by the Tenth Amendment
and Separation of Powers and That Defendants Are Not Jointly and
Severally Liable for any Disgorgement Ordered by the Court ("Motion").
Defendants*fn1 have asserted as affirmative defenses that the
Government's RICO claims and the relief it seeks are prohibited by the
Tenth Amendment and separation of powers principles. They also argue that
they are not jointly and severally liable for any potential disgorgement
which might be ordered by the Court. The United States argues in this Motion that each of these affirmative defenses is insufficient as a
matter of law and must be dismissed.*fn2
Upon consideration of the Motion, the Opposition, the Reply and the
entire record herein, and for the reasons set forth below, the United
States' Motion is granted.
Plaintiff, the United States of America ("the Government") has brought
this suit against Defendants pursuant to Sections 1962(c) and (d) of the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"),
18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq.*fn3 Defendants are manufacturers of
cigarettes and other tobacco-related entities. The Government seeks
injunctive relief and $289 billion*fn4 for what it alleges to be an
unlawful conspiracy to deceive the American public.
The Government's Amended Complaint describes a four-decade long
conspiracy, dating back to at least 1953, to intentionally and willfully
deceive and mislead the American public about, among other things, the harmful nature of tobacco products, the addictive
nature of nicotine, and the possibility of manufacturing safer and less
addictive tobacco products. Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") at ¶ 3.
According to the Government, the underlying strategy Defendants adopted
was to deny that smoking caused disease and to consistently maintain that
whether smoking caused disease was an "open question." Am. Compl. at 5
34. In furtherance of that strategy, Defendants allegedly issued
deceptive press releases, published false and misleading articles,
destroyed and concealed documents which indicated that there was in fact
a correlation between smoking and disease, and aggressively targeted
children as potential new smokers. Am. Compl. at ¶ 36.*fn5
Defendants vehemently deny all the Government's claims and assert a
variety of affirmative defenses to the allegations in their Answers,
responses to interrogatories, and in the Joint Defendants' Preliminary
Proposed Conclusions of Law Regarding Affirmative Defenses ("JDPPCL").
The affirmative defenses they assert include separation of powers, the
Tenth Amendment, and a denial of joint and several liability for any
disgorgement the Court may order. Defendants proffer different rationales to justify each of these
affirmative defenses. As to their separation of powers defense,
Defendants assert that the Attorney General's enforcement of RICO is an
encroachment on Congress' reservation unto itself of the regulation of
tobacco. See Defs.' Opp' n at 2. As to their Tenth Amendment
defense, Defendants initially argued that the activities at issue in this
case do not constitute "interstate commerce" for purposes of the Commerce
Clause and, therefore, the federal government lacks the authority to
bring this action. See JDPPCL at 903-05. Defendants now assert
that the Government's request for federal enforcement of state and local
ordinances in this case violates "fundamental principles of federalism"
in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Defs.' Opp'n at 17. Finally,
Defendants argue that holding them jointly and severally liable would
require each to disgorge more than its ill-gotten gains and would
conflict with the holding of this Court that under Section 1964(a), any
relief granted must be equitable and not punitive. Defs.' Opp'n at 24.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment
is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories
and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Material facts are those
that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
In this Motion, the Court is considering only issues of law even though
the factual context surrounding those ...