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Who Can Be Named As A Defendant In A Civil RICO Lawsuit?


Through a civil RICO claim, a plaintiff can take action to hold individuals, businesses, and other entities legally liable for damages caused by racketeering activity. Federal and state civil RICO laws offer a powerful remedy—a plaintiff can claim treble damages (three times their actual losses) through a successful lawsuit.

However, civil RICO claims are exceptionally complex legal cases. One of the many challenging issues is determining who should be named as a defendant in the case. To hold a defendant liable, you must prove that they acted as part of an “enterprise.” In this blog post, our Miami RICO claims lawyers explain the key things to know about naming defendants in a civil RICO lawsuit.

Civil RICO and the Enterprise Element 

Historically, RICO laws were put into place to help authorities take on certain types of complex criminal organizations. Some criminal enterprises—such as “the Mob”—kept their leadership at an “arm’s reach” of an actual illegal activity. RICO laws allow them to be held liable as part of a criminal organization. Civil RICO laws work in a similar fashion. Members of an enterprise can be held liable for damages caused by civil racketeering activity.

To bring a successful RICO lawsuit against a defendant, you must prove that they acted as part of an “enterprise” that carried out a pattern of racketeering activity. A single individual that commits fraud all by themselves cannot be held liable through a civil RICO lawsuit. It is not the appropriate avenue for that type of case. A civil RICO case requires an “enterprise.” A civil RICO lawsuit could be dismissed outright if it fails to assert an enterprise.

Defendant May Be Individuals, Businesses, Organizations, and Employees 

As far as any specific federal or state civil RICO claim is concerned, the proper defendant depends entirely on the circumstances of the case. Any “entity” that acts as part of an enterprise can be named as a defendant in a civil RICO lawsuit in Florida. This means that a plaintiff has the right to file such a lawsuit against:

  • An individual;
  • A legitimate business;
  • An illegitimate business;
  • An organization; or
  • An individual employee of any business or organization.

In some cases, it is possible that a single business could act as an “enterprise” if it engages in unlawful racketeering activity with one or more of its employees. Most often, this type of violation occurs when the employees in question are high-ranking executives or who otherwise have an ownership stake in the business/organization.

Call Our South Florida Civil RICO Attorneys for Immediate Help

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida civil RICO lawyers are standing by, ready to help you find the best possible solution. If you have any specific questions about who can be named as a defendant in a civil RICO case, we are here to help. Call us today for a fully confidential, no obligation initial consultation. We handle civil RICO claims throughout all of Southeastern Florida.

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