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AEI v Xcentric Summary Judgment Ruling

AEI v Xcentric Summary Judgment Ruling

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Published by Eric Goldman
Ripoff Report gets dismissal of RICO claim
Ripoff Report gets dismissal of RICO claim

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Published by: Eric Goldman on Jul 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/10/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTCENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA ASIA ECONOMIC INSTITUTE, aCalifornia limited liabilitycompany, RAYMOND MOBREZ, anindividual, and ILIANA LLANERAS,an individual,Plaintiffs,v.XCENTRIC VENTURES, LLC, anArizona limited liabilitycompany, d/b/a/ as BADBUSINESSBUREAU and/orBADBUSINESSBUREAU.COM, and/or RIPOFF REPORT and/or RIPOFFREPORT.COM; BAD BUSINESS BUREAU,LLC, organized and existing underthe laws of St. Kitts/Nevis, WestIndies; EDWARD MAGEDSON, anindividual, and DOES 1 through100, inclusive,Defendants.))))))))))CV 10-1360 SVW (PJWx)ORDER GRANTING IN PARTDEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT AS TO THE RICO CLAIMSTO THE EXTENT THOSE CLAIMS AREBASED ON PREDICATE ACTS OFEXTORTION [40]; DENYINGPLAINTIFFS' EX PARTEAPPLICATION FOR A CONTINUANCEOF THE SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTIONUNDER RULE 56(f) [87]; GRANTINGDEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISSPLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT AS TO THERICO CLAIMS BASED ON PREDICATEACTS OF WIRE FRAUD; ANDGRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FORA BENCH TRIAL [50]
I.INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiffs Asia Economic Institute, LLC (“AEI”) and itsprincipals, Raymond Mobrez and Iliana Llaneras (collectively,“Plaintiffs” or “AEI”) brought this action on January 27, 2010. The
Case 2:10-cv-01360-SVW-PJW Document 94 Filed 07/19/10 Page 1 of 53 Page ID #:2268
 
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case was removed to this Court in February 2010 on the grounds of bothfederal question and diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs generallyallege that Defendants Xcentric Ventures, LLC (“Xcentric”), BadBusiness Bureau, LLC, and Edward Magedson (collectively “Defendants”)own and operate a website at www.RipoffReport.com (“Ripoff Report”) andthat defamatory comments regarding AEI and its principals were postedon the website. Plaintiffs assert several claims against Defendantsarising out of these allegedly defamatory posts (and Defendants’conduct related thereto) including defamation, unfair businesspractices, intentional and negligent interference with prospectiveeconomic advantage, and violation of the Racketeer Influenced andCorrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).On April 19, 2010, the Court held an initial case statusconference at which both parties appeared and were represented bycounsel. The Court instructed the parties that it was bifurcatingPlaintiffs’ third and fourth causes of action under the RICO statute,18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), and 1962(d), to the extent that those claims arebased on the predicate acts of extortion, and ruled that those claimswould be tried first. The Court set a trial date for August 3, 2010.The Court also ruled that the issue of damages would be bifurcated;thus, the August 3, 2010 trial would only address Defendants’ liabilityunder the RICO statute. Consistent with this ruling, Plaintiffs madea motion before Magistrate Judge Walsh to bifurcate discovery so as tolimit discovery prior to August 3, 2010 to the RICO/extortion claimsonly. Magistrate Judge Walsh granted the motion on June 24, 2010.(Order, Docket No. 82.)2
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On May 24, 2010, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asto Plaintiffs’ entire case. Plaintiffs opposed the motion and alsofiled an ex parte application for a continuance of the summary judgmentmotion so as to conduct further discovery under Federal Rule of CivilProcedure 56(f).On May 31, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Enforce Defendants’Waiver of a Jury Trial and for a Bench Trial. Defendants did notoppose the motion.The motions came before the Court for a hearing on July 12, 2010.Additionally, at the July 12, 2010 hearing, the Court raised the issueof whether the Plaintiffs' Complaint was sufficient to state aplausible claim for RICO violations based on the alleged predicate actsof wire fraud. Defendants' argued that the Complaint was notsufficient, and made an oral motion to dismiss those claims for failureto plead the alleged acts of wire fraud with particularity.Having read and considered the parties' briefing, the evidencesubmitted therewith, and the parties' oral arguments, and for thereasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Request for a Continuance ofthe Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56(f) is DENIED.Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART as to thethird and fourth causes of action under RICO, to the extent thoseclaims are based on the alleged predicate acts of extortion orattempted extortion. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ thirdand fourth causes of action under RICO, to the extent those claims arebased on alleged acts of wire fraud, is GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.Plaintiffs' Motion for a Bench Trial is GRANTED.3
Case 2:10-cv-01360-SVW-PJW Document 94 Filed 07/19/10 Page 3 of 53 Page ID #:2270

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