Anti-Racketeering Civil Suits Jump in 2018
(30 Oct 2018) The latest available data from the federal courts show that civil filings under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) jumped significantly during FY 2018. As of the end of fiscal year 2018, the government reported a total of 1,405 civil lawsuits filed in federal courts under RICO. In fiscal year 2017, just 693 suits were filed. This past year also saw substantially more of these suits compared with any previous year over the past decade.

Some of the rise in civil suits under RICO has been driven by increased use of the statute by consumers alleging corporate fraud. The increase in litigation during this past year resulted from civil disputes with a variety of corporations, from Purdue Pharma L.P. to Facebook. Litigation was brought not only by private parties, but by a significant number of local government bodies.

Although better known by its criminal provisions, the civil component of RICO is playing an increasing role in RICO's legal application in federal courts. Over the past decade, the number of civil filings brought under RICO on average have been three times the number of prosecutions under RICO's criminal provisions according to TRAC's analyses of internal case-by-case Justice Department records tracking criminal prosecutions. In FY 2018, for example, a total of 213 criminal defendants were prosecuted under RICO, as compared to the 1,405 civil suits filed.

Among federal districts, Massachusetts saw the most federal civil suits filed under RICO last year with a total of 115. There 80 towns and cities sued several major drug companies under RICO, including AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Purdue Pharma L.P., and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., among others, seeking damages over the opioid crisis.

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