Report: Insurance Companies are Filing Civil RICO Lawsuits Against Alleged Fraudsters
According to a report from the SunSentinel, some insurance companies are starting to use civil RICO laws to combat (alleged) fraud. In recent weeks, both Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and Heritage Property & Casualty—two of the largest insurance providers in Florida—have filed civil RICO lawsuits. Here, our West Palm Beach RICO claims lawyers highlight four key takeaways from this article.
- Civil RICO Laws Allow Private Parties to Challenge Organized Fraud
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and Florida’s state RICO laws are most often associated with criminal conduct. However, statutes also allow plaintiffs to take civil action to combat organized fraud. Essentially, a private party can file a RICO lawsuit to challenge fraud that the government is (allegedly) failing to prosecute.
- Insurers Allege “False and Fictitious Invoices”
In both cases referenced in this article, the insurance companies are alleging that private businesses are over-billing them by submitting “false and fictitious invoices” related to property damage repairs. For example, Heritage Property & Casualty filed a civil RICO lawsuit in a Miami-Dade County court against two owners of a water restoration company. The insurer alleges that the owners of the company engaged in a sustained pattern of organized fraud.
- Treble Damages are Available in a Civil RICO Claim
For a number of different reasons, a plaintiff may decide to file a civil RICO lawsuit instead of another type of fraud claim. Notably, there is a lot of the line in RICO cases. When successful, a plaintiff has the right to recover compensation for all court costs and attorneys’ fees. Additionally, a successful plaintiff can claim treble damages. If a plaintiff suffered $100,000 in actual economic losses because of a RICO violation, they may seek $300,000 in financial compensation in a civil RICO lawsuit.
- These are Complicated Cases—A RICO Complaint Must be Precise
Prevailing in a civil RICO claim is not easier. Quite the contrary, these are among the most complex types of fraud lawsuits to file. To be successful, a RICO complaint must be extremely precise in its allegations. Plaintiffs cannot make vague claims regarding fraud. Courts have developed specific standards for RICO lawsuits.
Clear allegations of misconduct and comprehensive supporting evidence are needed to prove a RICO violation. Proving fraud is not sufficient. A RICO violation is distinct from ordinary fraud. It requires a pattern of racketeering activity as part of a formal or informal enterprise. Notably, if a plaintiff files an unsuccessful RICO lawsuit, then it can be held liable for the defendant’s legal fees.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Civil RICO Attorneys for Help
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida civil RICO lawyers have the skills and legal expertise to help you navigate the claims process. If you have any questions about filing a civil RICO lawsuit or defending a civil RICO claim, we are available to provide guidance and support. Call us now for confidential representation. With office locations in West Palm Beach, Miami, and Palm Beach Gardens, we advise clients throughout the entirety of Southeastern Florida.