DO YOU REALLY WANT TO INCLUDE A RICO CLAIM IN YOUR COMPLAINT

You want to file a RICO claim with your civil complaint.  Indeed, your client may have come to you for the specific reason of filing under RICO.   He may be telling you about the damages the statute provides and the impact the filing will have.  Stop!   Take a second to review the pros and cons.

1.  Venue in federal court.

Without a RICO claim, it is possible for the claim to be filed in and remain in state court.  Federal caselaw now allows a motion to dismiss to challenge the complaint, and have plaintiff substantiate its allegations, before any discovery.   You will face a mini summary judgment motion at the onset.   In contrast, in states such as New Jersey, early motions to dismiss are disfavored and outlining the claim and requesting discovery may be sufficient.

2. Other causes of action may be as persuasive without the baggage.

Common law fraud permits punitive damages without a lengthy pleading.  You will likely include state fraud claims and conspiracy anyway.  Many state consumer fraud statutes such as New Jersey permit triple damages without the requirement of showing a pattern, criminal enterprise, predicate acts  and satisfying other statutory requirements.

3. Why  not file the State RICO statute.

Less popular, state civil RICO statutes can provide similar relief.

Law Office of Howard Gutman
(providing co-counsel, consulting, research, and other services on RICO claims).

Handling RICO Litigation

My office handles both civil and criminal litigation under the RICO statute, for both plaintiffs and defendants.   Let me make some observations about RICO practice.

1. Any RICO plaintiff should expect a motion to dismiss.   Many of these cases involve fraud.  Clients may assume that pleading the existence of a fraud and explaining how the client has been damaged will be sufficient.   It’s not.  The plaintiff must identify the date, time, and place of any false or deceptive statements, and what each defendant did.  Do not lump together multiple defendants together and assume that will be sufficient because it won’t.

2. Criminal defense of the peripheral defendant  Frequently the defendant is put in the position of having the defendant testify and face grueling cross-examination, or put forth a limited defense.