Cedric Kushner Promotions, Ltd. v. King, 533 U.S. 158, 4 (2001)

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Cite as: 533 U. S. 158 (2001)

Opinion of the Court

cate crimes. The District Court, citing Court of Appeals precedent, dismissed the complaint. Civ. No. 98-6859, 1999 WL 771366, *3-4 (SDNY, Sept. 28, 1999). And the Court of Appeals affirmed that dismissal. 219 F. 3d 115 (CA2 2000) (per curiam). In the appellate court's view, 1962(c) applies only where a plaintiff shows the existence of two separate entities, a "person" and a distinct "enterprise," the affairs of which that "person" improperly conducts. Id., at 116. In this instance, "it is undisputed that King was an employee" of the corporation Don King Productions and also "acting within the scope of his authority." Id., at 117. Under the Court of Appeals' analysis, King, in a legal sense, was part of, not separate from, the corporation. There was no "person," distinct from the "enterprise," who improperly conducted the "enterprise's affairs." And thus 1962(c) did not apply. Ibid.

Other Circuits, applying 1962(c) in roughly similar circumstances, have reached a contrary conclusion. See, e. g., Brannon v. Boatmen's First Nat. Bank of Okla., 153 F. 3d 1144, 1148, n. 4 (CA10 1998); Richmond v. Nationwide Cassel L. P., 52 F. 3d 640, 647 (CA7 1995); Jaguar Cars, Inc. v. Royal Oaks Motor Car Co., 46 F. 3d 258, 265, 269 (CA3 1995); Sever v. Alaska Pulp Corp., 978 F. 2d 1529, 1534 (CA9 1992). We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict. We now agree with these Circuits and hold that the Second Circuit's interpretation of 1962(c) is erroneous.

We do not quarrel with the basic principle that to establish liability under 1962(c) one must allege and prove the existence of two distinct entities: (1) a "person"; and (2) an "enterprise" that is not simply the same "person" referred to by a different name. The statute's language, read as ordinary English, suggests that principle. The Act says that it applies to "person[s]" who are "employed by or associated with" the "enterprise." 1962(c). In ordinary English one speaks of employing, being employed by, or associating with others, not oneself. See Webster's Third New International Dictionary 132 (1993) (defining "associate"); id., at 743 (defin-

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