Limitations Period

Civil RICO claims are subject to a four-year statute of limitations. The United States Supreme Court adopted this limitations period and applied it to all civil RICO claims in the case of Agency Holding Corp. v Malley-Duff & Associates, Inc., 483 U.S. 143 (1987). Because RICO did not have its own statute of limitations, common law rules dictated that RICO claims should be subject to the statute of limitations applied to the most analogous claim under state law. The Supreme Court did not favor this approach because it would have resulted in civil RICO claims being subject to 50 different limitations periods, and no one could determine the limitations period until a particular claim was brought in a particular jurisdiction. The Supreme Court decided it was more fair and efficient to borrow the limitations period from another federal statute, which would result in a uniform statute of limitations period regardless of the jurisdiction in which a particular RICO claim was filed. Because Congress essentially copied RICO’s civil remedy provision (18 U.S.C. § 1964(c)) from the civil remedies provision of the Clayton Anti-trust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15(a), the Supreme Court adopted the Clayton Act’s four year statute of limitations as the limitations period applicable to all federal civil RICO claims.

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