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Causation and Civil RICO Standing: When Is a Plaintiff Injured "By Reason Of" A RICO Violation?

NCJ Number
St. John's Law Review Volume: 64 Issue: 4 Dated: special issue (Fall 1990) Pages: 849-876
L Ginger
Date Published
28 pages
The issue of when plaintiffs are injured by reason of a violation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in a manner sufficient to give them civil RICO standing continues to plague Federal courts.
Among the remedies included in RICO is a private right of action for treble damages that is available to persons injured in their business or property by a violation of RICO's Section 1962. To sue under civil RICO, a private plaintiff must prove injury to business or property by reason of a RICO violation. This requirement poses a question of causation: what nexus between the plaintiff's injury and the defendant's RICO violation must exist before one can say that the injury occurred by reason of the violation. Because the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress appear to be unresponsive to this question, an amendment to RICO is both necessary and appropriate to spell out the type of causation sufficient for civil RICO standing. The amendment should ensure redress for business and property injuries proximately caused by a wide variety of racketeering activities and should stem the tide of judicial restrictions on the availability of private civil RICO remedies. 141 footnotes