GEICO Files Civil RICO Lawsuit Against Five Florida Companies
The Insurance Journal recently reported that GEICO, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, has filed a civil RICO lawsuit against five Florida businesses along with six specific individuals. The lawsuit, which was filed in Tampa Bay, alleges that the defendants were engaged in an insurance fraud scheme that amounted to a civil RICO violation. Civil RICO lawsuits have become increasingly common. If you believe that your Florida business may be facing a RICO case, please contact an experienced RICO claims attorney today to discuss your legal options.
Fraudulent Insurance Claims as a Civil RICO Violation
GEICO alleges that the defendants were knowingly engaged in the practice of submitting false insurance claims. Importantly, the insurance giant contends that the false claims were submitted in a complex and highly organized manner. The claims in question were all in relation to glass repair bills. GEICO believes that the defendants took the insurance information of customers and used that information to create fake invoices for non-existent glass repair claims. These claims were then submitted to the insurance company, generally without the consent or knowledge of the actual insured customer. GEICO is seeking damages under both the Civil RICO Act and the Florida Consumer Protection Act.
Understanding Civil RICO Claims
In Florida, many different types of actions can lead to a RICO claim. Racketeering includes many different types unlawful acts, and common examples include bribery, fraud, extortion and embezzlement. However, proving one of those acts took place is not sufficient to prevail in a civil RICO lawsuit. To establish a RICO violation, plaintiffs must also prove that the defendant engaged in a ‘pattern of racketeering activity’. In the case involving GEICO, it does appear that a pattern of racketeering activity might have occurred, at least if the allegations against the defendants are true. GEICO’s attorneys allege that hundreds of fraudulent claims were submitted over a long period of time. They contend that these fraudulent claims were highly organized. Ultimately, determining whether or not a RICO violation occurred will always require a comprehensive assessment of the facts of the individual case in question. For example, fraud can only be a RICO violation if you can prove that it was part of a pattern of activity. In determining whether or not a ‘pattern of activity’ existed, courts generally use the ‘relationship plus continuity’ test. This test was set forth in H.J. Inc. v. NW Bell Tel. Co. In that case, the Supreme Court determined that the following three elements must be present in order to establish a pattern of activity:
- There must have been repeated conduct;
- The conduct must have been reasonably connected; and
- The conduct must be likely to continue in the future.
Contact Our Office Today
Civil RICO claims are notoriously complex. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our legal team has extensive experience handling all sides of civil RICO claims. If your Florida business is involved in a civil RICO action, please contact our attorneys today at (561) 291-8298 to set up a free legal consultation. Our firm is based in West Palm Beach and we represent businesses throughout South Florida, including in Broward County and Dade County.