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What Is Proximate Cause In A Civil RICO Claim?


Through a federal civil RICO lawsuit or a Florida civil RICO lawsuit, a plaintiff can hold a defendant liable for financial damages caused by racketeering activity. Civil RICO claims are not just for holding criminal enterprises accountable. A legitimate business or organization could face civil RICO liability if they have caused another party losses through a pattern of racketeering activity.

That being said, civil RICO claims are complex. The burden of liability is high. Among other things, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s improper conduct was the proximate cause of their losses. Otherwise, a civil RICO action may be dismissed. Here, our West Palm Beach RICO claims lawyer explains the key things to know about proximate cause in civil racketeering litigation.

Proximate Cause: Explained

The term ‘proximate cause’ comes up in many different areas of law, from personal injury claim to civil RICO litigation. It may sound like complex legal jargon, but the general concept is relatively straightforward. As defined by Cornell Legal Information Institute, proximate cause is “an actual cause that is also legally sufficient to support liability.” You may also hear this referred to more simply as the “true cause” or the “legal cause.”

Here is an example of how proximate cause works. Your friend calls you and asks for a ride. You agree. On the way over, you are struck by a vehicle that blew through a red light. Did your friend cause the accident? After all, you were only in that intersection because they asked for a ride. From a legal perspective, the answer is a clear “no”. Your friend asking for a ride is not a “proximate cause.” It does not support legal liability. The driver running the red light is the proximate cause.

Proving Legal Causation in a Civil RICO Claim Can Be Challenging 

State and federal civil RICO laws are clear: A plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s racketeering activity was the proximate cause of their losses. Proving actual causation is not sufficient. In other words, a party filing a civil RICO lawsuit must prove the following:

  1. The defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity as part of an enterprise (a RICO violation);
  2. The plaintiff sustained actual monetary damages; and
  3. The defendant’s RICO violation was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s losses.

In some civil RICO cases, proximate cause can be very complicated. It is not uncommon for a defendant to move for a dismissal of a civil RICO lawsuit on the grounds that their conduct was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s losses.

Contact Our West Palm Beach Civil RICO Attorney for Immediate Help

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our South Florida civil litigation lawyers have the unique skills, knowledge, and experience to handle RICO cases. If you have any questions or concerns about the concept of proximate cause and its implication in a civil RICO claim, we can help. Contact us now for a strictly confidential case evaluation. We have law offices in West Palm Beach, Wellington and Miami.



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