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Pike & Lustig, LLP. We see solutions where others see problems.

Civil RICO Claims: Jurisdiction And Venue


A RICO claim allows a private plaintiff to hold a defendant liable for damages caused by racketeering activity. There are both state and federal civil RICO laws. Further, these cases sometimes involve conduct occurring in multiple different states. For these reasons, jurisdiction and venue are often in dispute in RICO claims. Here, our West Palm Beach RICO claims lawyers explain the key things to know about jurisdiction and venue in federal civil RICO claims.

Jurisdiction and Venue: Know the Basics 

Jurisdiction and venue are two closely related, but distinct legal concepts. If you are preparing to file or defend a lawsuit, it is useful to understand the difference between jurisdiction and venue. Here are the basics:

  • Jurisdiction: As explained by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, jurisdiction is the authority to hear a specific legal claim.
  • Venue: A venue is the place that is actually hearing a claim. In other words, it is the court where a lawsuit is actually filed.

Notably, more than one court can have jurisdiction over the same underlying legal claim. In these types of cases, there can sometimes be disputes over which court is the appropriate venue to hear the lawsuit.

An Overview of Federal Civil RICO Law’s Jurisdiction and Venue Provisions 

If you are involved in a federal civil RICO dispute, you may have questions about which court will hear your claim. Pursuant to the federal civil RICO statute, a district court will have the authority adjudicate a RICO case only if:

  1. It has personal jurisdiction over the defendant; and
  2. The proper venue lies in the district where the lawsuit is being filed.

Understanding Personal Jurisdiction and Civil RICO Lawsuits 

Most civil RICO lawsuits are filed against corporations, organizations, or individuals alleged to be involved in a loose enterprise. A plaintiff can only file a civil RICO lawsuit against this type of defendant in a state that has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. For corporations, organizations, and other enterprises, personal jurisdiction can be established by any of the following:

  1. The business is incorporated or the organization is formed in a state;
  2. The business or organization has its main office in a state; and
  3. The business or organization has “sufficient contacts” with a state.

In effect, this means that a RICO defendant may face civil action in the state where it was formed, the state where it has its principal place of business, or the state where the alleged racketeering activity occurred.

A RICO Defendant May File for a Transfer of Venue 

Even if a district court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant, that does not mean that court is the proper place to hear the case. The defendant has the right to take action to get the RICO claim transferred to another venue. 

Call Our South Florida Civil RICO Lawyers for a Confidential Consultation

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida civil RICO attorneys are committed to provide the highest level of legal representation to clients. If you have specific concerns about the jurisdiction and venue in a RICO case, we can provide guidance and support. Call our firm now for a completely confidential case evaluation. With legal offices in West Palm Beach, Miami, and Palm Beach Gardens, our lawyers handle civil RICO cases throughout Southeastern Florida.

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