Morris Manning & Martin, LLP

Effective Use of Sanctions as a Defense against Federal RICO Claims


The temptation to file a civil RICO claim is strong. Besides the possibility of lucrative treble damages, the addition of a RICO claim to a complaint provides strategic litigation advantages, including access to a federal forum, flexible venue options, a justification for sweeping discovery, and a weapon to “shake down [one’s] opponent and, given the expense of defending a RICO charge, to extort a settlement.”

But filing a RICO claim is not without risk. Various courts have recognized the “potential for abuse by civil litigants,” and accordingly, have applied particular scrutiny to RICO claims.4
Therefore, from a defense perspective, one of the strongest shields against the abusive filing of RICO claims is a sword—the threat of sanctions.

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