WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a racketeering lawsuit against boxing promoter Don King by a rival promoter representing heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman.
The 9-0 ruling said the federal racketeering law permits the lawsuit even though King and his company, Don King Productions, are legally considered separate entities. King is the president and sole shareholder of his company.
A corporate employee who conducts the corporation's affairs through an unlawful pattern of activity ``uses that corporation as a vehicle whether he is, or is not, its sole owner,'' Justice Stephen Breyer wrote.
The opinion clarifies when people can be sued for allegedly conducting racketeering activity through a business. The federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations law allows civil lawsuits, seeking triple damages, against people accused of conducting an ``enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity.''
King was sued in 1998 by rival Cedric Kushner Promotions. Kushner filed the lawsuit in New York, accusing King of interfering with Kushner's contract with Rahman.
The lawsuit, which sought about $12 million in damages, said King paid Rahman not to go through with a fight that had been arranged through Rahman's contract with Kushner.
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the RICO law required the person and the enterprise to be ``distinct'' from each other.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.
Breyer wrote that the lower court rulings would immunize from RICO liability ``high-ranking individuals in an illegitimate criminal enterprise.''