Attorneys Christopher Bandas and C. Jeffrey Thut, along with Gary Stewart, have filed motions to dismiss the claims made by Edelson, P.C. in their on-going civil RICO case. The underlying case contends that the above group (also including Joseph Darrell Palmer) form an “objector enterprise”, the goal of which is to extort money from class action settlements. They do so by objecting to settlements and then holding out until mediation on appeals, where they can request payments to “go away.”
The motions to dismiss were filed in response to a lengthy amended complaint filed by Edelson at the beginning of March 2017. In it, Edelson contends that this scheme, carried out on a nationwide basis, is enough to constitute civil RICO. The objectors contend that, despite the amended complaint, Edelson has failed to provide substantial evidence of wrongdoing to meet the claims of bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and witness tampering.
Bandas, Thut, and Stewart all argue that precedent prevents their actions, as part of the litigation process, from being considered racketeering. They claim that “litigation activities cannot constitute a predicate act of racketeering activity.” Rather, they contend, if the civil RICO suit is allowed to continue, it will have a chilling effect on class action objectors. Bandas claims that future class action objectors would automatically open themselves up to RICO claims any time an objection was filed.
Edelson, in their complaint, allege that they are only targeting the “objector enterprise”, who repeatedly engage in this dubious behavior. It is the act of repeatedly objecting, appealing, and engaging in attempted extortions at mediation sessions that constitutes racketeering behavior, not simply the act of objecting to a class action settlement.
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