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Civil RICO Lawsuit: Closed-Ended Continuity vs. Open-Ended Continuity


Although RICO cases are often associated with criminal activity, plaintiffs can file a civil lawsuit under federal and state RICO laws. Civil RICO claims are notoriously complex. Among other things, you must prove that a defendant engaged in a “pattern” of unlawful racketeering activity to bring a successful civil RICO lawsuit.

In order to establish a “pattern” in a RICO case, a plaintiff must demonstrate sufficient “continuity” between the defendant’s unlawful conduct. There are two types of continuity: Closed-ended and open-ended. Here, our Miami RICO claims lawyers explain the difference between closed-ended continuity and open-ended continuity.

Proving a RICO Violation: Understanding the Continuity Requirement

 In the context of a civil RICO case, the term continuity is used to describe the connection between a defendant’s ongoing racketeering activity. State and federal courts have consistently stated a RICO violation is more than “mere fraud”—there must be a more comprehensive scheme. As a plaintiff, you must prove a pattern of continuity racketeering behavior. Generally speaking, it is far easier to establish a RICO violation if you can prove that a defendant engaged in similar and related misconduct over time. There are two distinct types of RICO continuity:

  • Closed-Ended Continuity: With closed-ended continuity, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant engaged in a series of related unlawful acts over a significant period of time. The greater the number of acts and the longer the conduct occurred, the easier it will be to prove a pattern of racketeering activity through closed-ended continuity. If you have any questions about closed-ended continuity, our Florida civil RICO lawyers are here to help.
  • Open-Ended Continuity: With open-ended continuity, there is no defined end date. The plaintiff alleges that a pattern of similar unlawful acts have occurred and they threaten to continue into the future unless legal action is taken. Once again, the greater the number of total acts and the longer the time period of misconduct, the easier it will be to establish civil RICO liability through open-ended continuity. If you have specific questions about open-ended continuity, our South Florida civil RICO litigation attorneys can help. 

The Bottom Line: The continuity requirement is one of the most challenging aspects of any civil RICO lawsuit. As both closed-ended continuity and open-ended continuity allow plaintiffs to satisfy RICO’s pattern element, you can bring a lawsuit against a defendant even if it has already stopped engaging in racketeering activity. The key to bringing a successful lawsuit is proving that the defendant engaged in an organized scheme to commit fraud through a pattern of substantially similar misconduct.

Call Our Florida Civil RICO Claims Attorneys for Immediate Help

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida civil RICO lawyers have the knowledge and legal expertise that you can trust. RICO cases are notoriously complex. You need a top professional on your team. If you have any questions about closed-ended continuity or open-ended continuity, we are available to help. Call us now for a completely confidential initial consultation. From our offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we handle civil RICO litigation throughout South Florida.

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