Arthur Smith has lost his fight against Houston ISD, but what a fight he put up! The man had a contract with the district to design and produce custom t-shirts for some of the schools in the district. He was to produce 2,103 shirts for $12,618. That's six bucks a shirt--pretty good deal.
But then the district told Mr. Smith he would need to share the contract with a California outfit, and Mr. Smith refused. So HISD just cancelled his contract.
Lawsuit! Mr. Smith alleged breach of contract, copyright infringement, tortious interference with his business, defamation and racial discrimination. That was in his original petition to the court, which he did on his own. Later, when he lawyered-up, he dropped the racial discrimination claim, but added 12 new legal theories including conspiracy, fraud, bribery, extortion, conversion, business disparagement, intentional infliction of emotional distress and racketeering. That's right--"racketeering." The suit alleged that the district violated RICO--the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. I don't know about you, but when I hear that word I think of Jimmy Hoffa--not a procurement officer in a public school district. RICO is a law passed during the Nixon Administration designed to crack down on Mafia figures like Don Corleone--not mid-level bureaucrats operating out of a 10x10 government cubicle.
None of this was successful. The copyright claim was too late; the breach of contract was in the wrong court; most of the claims were dismissed due to governmental immunity. You may be pleased to know that a governmental unit, like a school district "is not a proper RICO defendant as a matter of law." That's the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act--RICO.
The case is Smith v. Houston ISD, decided by the federal court for the Southern District of. Texas on January 17, 2017. We found it at 2017 WL 175814.
DAWG BONE: BREATHE EASY. YOU ARE NOT SUBJECT TO RICO AND ARE NOT LIKELY TO WAKE UP WITH A HORSE HEAD IN YOUR BED.
File this one under: LIABILITY