Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
West Palm Beach Business & Personal Injury Attorney
Turn to us for your legal needs. 561-291-8298

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


In 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act was passed into law in an effort to combat organized crime. RICO is a criminal statute that also includes a civil element. An individual, business, or organization defrauded due to racketeering activity can file a civil RICO lawsuit against the responsible party.

This raises an important question: Who can be named as a defendant in a federal civil RICO lawsuit? The short answer is “any person” —but that term is defined very broadly in the legal statute. In this blog post, our West Palm Beach RICO claims attorney provides a more detailed overview of who can be named as a defendant in federal RICO litigation.

Civil RICO Law: The Broad Definition of “Person” 

The statutory language of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act holds that “any person” can be held legally liable for damages caused by unlawful racketeering activity. The law defines any person in a very broad manner. It is not merely restricted to individuals. Entities—formal or informal—can potentially be sued for a civil RICO violation. You might have a civil RICO claim against:

  • Individuals;
  • An informal association of people;
  • Corporations;
  • Business partnerships;
  • Other companies;
  • Non-profit organizations; and
  • Labor unions.

However, it is important to emphasize that you must prove the existence of an enterprise as part of a civil RICO claim. An enterprise is a required element of a civil RICO lawsuit. In other words, while you can name “any person” as a defendant, you cannot bring a successful lawsuit against a single individual. An enterprise, formal or informal, must have been created to carry out the racketeering activity as alleged in the lawsuit. 

You Cannot Bring a Federal Civil RICO Lawsuit Against a Government Entity 

There are limits of who you can sue under federal RICO law. As a general rule, you cannot file a civil RICO lawsuit against the government or a government agency. While it is certainly possible that the government a “predicate act” that otherwise constitutes a RICO violation, the government and its agencies are not “persons” that can be sued under the statute. The key reason is that the government has sovereign immunity. In effect, the government is immune from lawsuits unless it gives the express permission to sue. It has not given such permission in regards to civil RICO claims.

Speak to a Federal Civil RICO Claims Lawyer in Florida for Immediate Help

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our commercial litigation team has the skills, experience, and legal expertise to handle all types of civil RICO cases. If you have any specific questions or concerns about naming a part as a defendant in a civil RICO claim, we are here to help. Give us a call now or connect with us online to arrange your confidential case evaluation. With a commitment to excellence, we handle civil RICO litigation in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and beyond.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Segment Pixel