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Claims under the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO”) are powerful but can be notoriously tricky to plead.  A June 28, 2017 opinion by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal considered RICO claims in the context of allegations that a bank (the “Bank”) was a knowing and willing conspirator with full knowledge of the falsity of documents it relied on to accomplish cross-collateralization of non-performing loans and the benefits it expected as a result of its participation in the alleged conspiracy.  The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s RICO claim as insufficiently pled.  The plaintiff appealed the dismissal to the Third District Court of Appeal. 


The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and found that the plaintiff plead the required elements in support of its RICO claim.  First, the Court found that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged the existence of, and the Bank’s participation in, the RICO enterprise because the plaintiff alleged, among other things, that fraudulent documents were used with the Bank’s knowledge and consent and were used by the Bank to cross-collateralize certain non-performing loans. 

July 14, 2017


RICO CLAIMS UPHELD BY APPELLATE COURT

 Second, the Court found a pattern of racketeering activity existed because the alleged predicate acts spanned over the course of years and not months. Third, the Court found the existence of at least two incidents of racketeering conduct that had the same or similar intents, results, accomplices, victims, or methods of commission, or that were otherwise interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and were not isolated incidents.  Specifically, the Court found that (i) the falsification and use of falsified documents and (ii) the creation of a technical default, qualified as the required two acts; that the conspirators shared the intent of financial gain; and that the purpose, result, and method of commission were all interrelated: to keep the plaintiff out of the loop in order to facilitate the cross-collateralization without drawing attention and to allow the Bank to remove the bad debts from its books.  Because the Court found all the elements of the RICO claim were plead, the Court ruled the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiff’s RICO claim.

For more information about the topic of this blog post, please contact Weber Law, P.A.’s Steven D. Weber at 305-377-8788 or sweber@weberlawpa.com.


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