When passed by Congress in 1970, the expectation was that most RICO claims would be brought by U.S. Attorneys in the criminal context. In the 1980s, however, RICO’s tail (i.e., it’s civil remedies provision) began to wag the dog. Civil RICO claims exploded, and ever since, the number of criminal RICO claims filed every year is a small fraction of the number of civil actions brought under RICO. Congress paid so little attention to RICO’s civil remedy provision that it failed to specify a statute of limitations for civil RICO claims.
RICO’s civil remedies provision, section 1964(c), states:
Any person injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of section 1962 of this chapter may sue therefore in any appropriate United States district court and shall recover threefold the damages he sustains and the cost of the suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees . . . .
Although apparently straight-forward, this provision contains several nuances that must be considered before filing any civil RICO claim.