• RICO – 6814

    Fall 2012




Commonly known as RICO, the RacketeerInfluenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq., grabs moreheadlines and is more sweeping in its application than practically any otherfederal statute.  Originally intended as a weapon against the Mafia, RICOhas evolved into a statute used to fight a wide variety of corrupt practices.  For example, executives accused of taking kickbacks at FIFA wereindicted under RICO in the Spring of 2015.  A U.S. Senator recentlysuggested that the DOJ should bring RICO claims against fossil fuel companieswhose products are causing climate change, analogizing such a claim to theDOJ’s use of RICO against tobacco companies who falsely advertised the healthaffects of smoking. 

RICO is increasingly becoming animportant aspect of international business.  In 2014, Chevron brought RICOclaims against a U.S. lawyer who allegedly bribed foreign officials in order toobtain a multi-billion dollar judgment in a foreign tribunal.  RICO, however,has its limits.  Courts are beginning to weigh in heavily against RICO’sapplication to extraterritorial disputes.  When RICO claims were allegedin the sex abuse cases against the Catholic Church, courts struck down theclaims on the basis that the plaintiffs sought compensation for personalinjuries, which are not within the scope of the statute.  Enterprise,pattern and causation issues under RICO present some of the most complicatedlegal questions that any lawyer will ever confront. 

Professor Grell has been litigating RICOclaims since graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1990.  Hewas counsel of record in Klehr v. A.O. Smith Corp., 521 U.S. 179 (1997),in which the Supreme Court dismissed RICO claims brought against Professor Grell’sclient and adopted accrual principles that continue to govern RICO’s statute oflimitations.  Professor Grell is the author of Grell on RICO and isthe editor of ricoact.com

Professor Grell’s outlook onhigh-profile RICO claims is regularly sought out by publications such as USA Today, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Wall StreetJournal, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Newsweek, NPR’s Voice of theNation, the Chicago Tribune, the BBC, U.S. News & World Report, theNational Law Journal, the National Review, and the Boston Globe.  Classdiscussion incorporates news clips, youtube videos, and scenes from yourfavorite gangster movies.  

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