The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law that was ushered in with the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Although RICO is essentially designed to combat organized crime, the law also contains a provision that allows a private party to file a lawsuit against another person, business or other entity (e.g. corporation, political group, religious organization) over racketeering activity. Today, RICO has become an increasingly common civil litigation claim, particularly in cases involving fraud. Nonetheless, civil RICO claims are governed by complicated rules of procedure and cases are frequently dismissed. Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil RICO claim, it is important to choose the right attorney to handle your case.
The law offices of Bruce Richardson P.C. hadles civil RICO claims, often in the context of real estate litigation and mortgage fraud. We are knowledgeable in the RICO statute and adept at representing clients in state and federal court. Because these cases often involve multiple parties and complicated rules of evidence, we often collaborate with other law firms to provide our clients with the superior level of legal representation they expect and deserve.
Elements of RICO
RICO prohibits racketeering activity as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. In particular, it is unlawful for an employee or an associate of an enterprise to conduct or participate in a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt. While this seems straightforward, court rulings have vastly expanded the scope of the law beyond organized crime. As such, a RICO enterprise can involve any partnership, corporation, individual, association, legal entity, union, or group of individuals associated in fact.
Although the defendant need not be criminally convicted before a civil Rico claim can be brought, the plaintiff must be able to show that:
● An enterprise existed
● The defendant was employed by or associated with the enterprise
● The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity
● The defendant participated in the conduct of at least 2 “predicate acts” of racketeering activity
● The plaintiff’s business or property was harmed
● The harm was directly caused by the defendant’s conduct
While an enterprise may be an individual, business or any other legal entity, it is often a group of individuals who form an “association” to work together for an extended period of time in pursuit of a common illegal interest. In addition to participating in the enterprise, the defendant must have had an indispensable role in carrying out its operations. Being a lower level employee or a business associate such as a vendor or professional service provider (e.g., lawyer, accountant) is not sufficient, even if such individuals had knowledge of the racketeering activity.
A pattern of racketeering activity is defined as two predicate acts under Section 1962 of the RICO statute (e.g., mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion) that occurred with 10 years of each other. Moreover, a RICO violation can be predicated upon any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance that is chargeable under state law.
In other words, the plaintiff must first be able to prove the underlying criminal acts were committed and then show how the crimes were part of racketeering activity conducted by an enterprise. It is worth noting that civil RICO actions cannot be based upon claims such as breach of contract, negligence, defective products, or failed business transactions.
Ultimately, a plaintiff who prevails may be entitled to significant compensation, which includes treble damages, attorneys fees and court costs. If the defendant’s behavior is particularly egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded. Such damages are designed to punish the defendant’s conduct as well as to deter others from engaging in racketeering activity.
Why You Should Call Us to Handle Your Civil Rico Claim
If you believe you have a valid claim or have been named as a defendant in a civil RICO lawsuit, you should contact the law offices of Bruce Richardson. We have the skills and resources to pursue and defend civil Rico claims. Our legal team will take the time to understand your circumstances, fully explain the process, and help you navigate the inherent challenges in a civil RICO claim.
If you believe that you business has been harmed by racketeering activity, we will conduct an extensive analysis to determine whether specific RICO requirements have been met. On the other hand, being named as a defendant in a civil RICO case is also a serious matter that requires the aggressive legal representation we can provide. In all cases, we rely on state-of-the-art technology to manage complex litigation. Additionally, we are highly experienced in ediscovery -- the discovery (or recovery) of electronic communications such as emails, text messages, and the like. When necessary, we collaborate with a respected network of investigators, forensic accountants, financial professionals and other experts to collect and examine evidence.
Because these claims often involve multiple parties and extensive amounts of evidence, we often partner with other law firms to manage each phase of a civil RICO case. We have a proven track record of pursuing successful civil RICO claims, as evidenced by our involvement in the dismantling of multi-million dollar mortgage fraud schemes and real estate scams. Our team has also represented clients on the other end of the spectrum by designing innovative defense strategies. The law offices of Bruce Richardson is the informed choice for civil RICO claims. Call our us today or complete the online contact form for a free case evaluation.
The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted Section 1983 of the U.S. Code to permit prisoners to sue state correctional officials when the conditions of confinement fail to meet constitutional standards of physical security, adequate medical treatment, freedom of religious expression, and so forth.
In order to state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege (1) that the challenged conduct was “committed by a person acting under color of state law,” and (2) that such conduct “deprived [the plaintiff] of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Cornejo v. Bell, 592 F.3d 121, 127 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Pitchell v. Callan, 13 F.3d 545, 547 (2d Cir. 1994)). Section 1983 does not create any independent substantive right; but rather is a vehicle to “redress . . . the deprivation of [federal] rights established elsewhere.” Thomas v. Roach, 165 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1999). A civil rights complaint must contain “specific allegations of fact that indicate a deprivation of constitutional rights; allegations which are nothing more than broad, simple, and conclusory statements are insufficient” to state a claim under § 1983. See Morpurgo v. Inc. Village of Sag Harbor, 697 F.Supp.2d 309, 341 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (citations omitted)
A "1983 prisoners' rights action" refers to a legal claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a federal statute that allows individuals to seek remedies for violations of their constitutional rights by government officials. In the context of prisoners, this law is often invoked when inmates believe their rights have been violated while in custody.
Key aspects of a "1983 prisoners' rights action" include:
It's important for individuals considering a 1983 prisoners' rights action to seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in civil rights and prison litigation to navigate the complexities of the legal process.