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GREEN v. AZTAR CORPORATION

August 20, 2003

CHRISTOPHER GREEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AZTAR CORPORATION, JONATHAN SWAIN AND RONALD H. ANTOS, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Hibbler, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In this RICO action, defendants Aztar Corporation and Jonathan Swain have filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. For the reasons below, the defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

This matter arises out of debts incurred by plaintiff Christopher Green while gambling at the Las Vegas-based Tropicana Casino. The Tropicana is owned by defendant Aztar Corporation and managed by defendant Jonathan Swain. Green began gambling at the Tropicana after he won $12 million in the Illinois Big Game Lottery in 1988. Green also used his lottery winnings to place various bets, some illegal, through an alleged Chicago-based agent of the Tropicana, defendant Ronald Antos.

As his winnings dwindled and his debts increased, Tropicana would extend Green lines of [ Page 2]

credit with the understanding that Green would repay his debts with future earnings. One such instance allegedly occurred in the spring of 1999. Green claims that he entered into a credit extension agreement with Tropicana's credit manager, Alex Montebello, wherein Green agreed to repay money he owed Tropicana. Also that spring, Green claims that he met with Swain to discuss repayment of an additional $400,000 he owed the casino. During the meeting, Green contends that Swain promised to forgive his debts altogether if Green refused to cooperate with a pending FBI investigation of Antos' illegal gambling operations.

When Green did not comply with Swain's request, Green alleges that Antos threatened Green and his family with bodily harm. Green also alleges that defendants began filing civil lawsuits against Green for passing Tropicana bad checks. Green further claims that defendants persuaded the Las Vegas District Attorney to file criminal charges against Antos for drawing and passing checks with intent to defraud, As a result, Green was arrested and briefly held in a Chicago jail.

Green claims that defendants violated RICO by: 1) placing illegal bets on Green's behalf; 2)routinely extending Green credit to place illegal bets; 3) accepting Green's checks knowing he had insufficient funds and then suing to enforce the checks; 4) offering to forgive Green's debts if he refused to cooperate with an FBI investigation; 5) threatening Green and his family. Green alleges that defendants' RICO violations caused him to suffer trauma, humiliation, emotional distress, familial discord, and monetary losses.

In response, defendants argue that Green lacks standing to bring a RICO action because he has failed to allege a compensable RICO injury or establish causation between Green's injuries and defendants' purported RICO violations. Defendants also argue that even if Green could [ Page 3]

demonstrate RICO standing, Green fails to state a cause of action under RICO.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Albany Bank & Trust Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 310 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2002). If when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must dismiss the case. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987).

ANALYSIS

The Court must first determine whether Green has pled sufficient facts to establish RICO standing. It is well established that a plaintiff must meet two basic requirements to bring a civil suit under RICO. First, the alleged injury must be to the plaintiffs business or property, and not personal in nature. Schiffels v. Kemper Financial Services Inc., 978 F.2d 344, 353 (7th Cir. 1992), abrogated by Beck v. Prupis, 529 U.S. 494 (2000) (narrowing scope of a civil cause of action under RICO but leaving intact Schiffels determination regarding compensable injuries under RICO); Rylewicz v. Beaton Services, Ltd., 888 F.2d 1175, 1180 (7th Cir. 1989). Second, the defendant's alleged acts in violation of RICO must have proximately caused the plaintiff's injury. Holmes v. Securities Investment Protection Corp., 503 U.S. 258 (1992). Defendants argue that Green's alleged injuries are not ...


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