South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Corporations Are “Persons” Under Georgia Law
Description Georgia high court held that the civil RICO statute, which applies to “persons,” includes all forms of business organizations, including corporations. By general state law, persons means to include business organizations unless specified otherwise.
Topic Business Organization
Key Words RICO; Corporation; Person
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Williams General Corporation filed a civil suit against Thomas Stone, Stone Cold Concerts, and other parties, seeking relief for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets and violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The trial court found Stone Cole Concert and its president, Thomas Stone, liable for conspiracy to commit a RICO violation. The appeals court held that the RICO statute excluded corporations from direct liability for RICO violations. That ruling was appealed to the Georgia high court.
Decision

Reversed. A corporation is a “person” for purposes of the civil RICO Act, whether or not the corporation is subject to criminal responsibility. Under Georgia law, “person” means an individual, a public or private corporation, an incorporated association, government, government agency, partnership, or unincorporated association. Unless clearly stated to the contrary in a statute, “person” is presumed to include such organizations besides natural persons.

Citation Williams General Crop. v. Stone, 632 S.E.2d 376 (Sup. Ct., Ga., 2006)

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