RICO Fraud in Environmental Issues: New Opportunities for Treble Damages
Environmental litigators have unique expertise in federal and state environmental laws and regulations, but few have had occasion to examine the legal landscape of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act (“RICO”), and fewer still have calculated the potential benefit this treble-damage statute might have in the proper case. Yet, as demonstrated in a 2008 case authored by then Federal Court of Appeals Judge, and now-Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, RICO can provide recovery for a client who has suffered damages due to undisclosed environmental contamination under certain circumstances. Moreover, a 2009 decision by the Supreme Court has significantly expanded the potential uses of RICO in cases involving PRPs who use environmental consultants to carry out schemes designed to conceal contamination. The well rounded environmental litigator must possess adequate knowledge of RICO to determine whether this powerful statutory tool is available.
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