Civil RICO Claims: What Is The Legal Doctrine Of Respondeat Superior?
Broadly defined, racketeering is a genre of crime or fraud through which perpetrators set up an organized, coordinated scheme designed to repeatedly and/or consistently carry the same or substantially similar illicit activity. Through a civil RICO claim, a plaintiff can file a lawsuit to recover damages directly from a defendant(s) engaged in racketeering activities.
In many cases, racketeering activity is carried out by individuals on behalf of an organization, business, or other legal entity. Through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, a business or organization can be held responsible for bad actions of an employee or agent. Here, our Miami RICO claims attorneys provide a more detailed explanation of the legal doctrine of respondeat superior.
Respondeat Superior: What You Need to Know
Respondeat superior is a long-standing tort law doctrine. As described by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, the legal principle states simply that an employer or organization can be held “legally responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee or agent.” In other words, a company cannot necessarily shield itself from liability on the grounds that “it was an employee’s fault.” Instead, employers and organizations are generally assumed to bear liability for their employees as long as the responsible individual was acting under the direction of the business/organization or they were acting within the course and scope of their responsibilities.
Civil RICO Claims: Company May Be Liable for Actions of Employee/Agent
The doctrine of respondeat superior is at issue in many civil RICO claims. In these types of lawsuits, plaintiffs often take action against businesses, organizations, or loosely-defined legal entities. As a defense to civil RICO liability, a company or organization may try to push the blame for wrongdoing onto an individual employee or agent.
Federal law is clear on this matter: Companies are liable for misconduct committed by employees and non-employee agents if those individuals commit misconduct within the course and scope of their authorities. That a corporation only acted through its agents is not necessarily a valid defense against liability in a civil RICO case.
Notably, federal courts have taken a relatively expansive view of the doctrine of respondeat superior in civil RICO claims and other types of fraud lawsuits. If an individual employee or non-employee agent is acting in the furtherance of the interests of a business or organization, it is likely that the entity will bear liability for any RICO violation found by the court.
Contact Our Miami, FL Civil RICO Lawyer for Immediate Legal Guidance and Support
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida commercial litigation attorneys have deep experience representing individuals, businesses, and organizations in civil RICO claims. If you have any questions about RICO and the doctrine of respondeat superior, our lawyers are here to help. Call our law firm now for a confidential, no obligation initial case evaluation. We handle civil RICO cases in West Palm Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and throughout Southeastern Florida.