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RICO and Statute of Limitation

RICO Act itself does not contain a statute of limitations but the Supreme Court has held that civil RICO claims are subject to a four-year statute of limitations. Agency Holding Corp. v. Malley-Duff & Associates, Inc., 483 U.S. 143, (U.S. 1987). The statute of limitations begins running on a RICO claim according to the “injury discovery accrual rule” which ties accrual to the time when a plaintiff first knew or should have known of his injury.  

Moreover, a RICO claim matures when the plaintiff’s injury and the subsequent damages resulting there from become clear and concrete. However, the statute of limitations on a civil RICO claim tolls if the plaintiff pleads the following three elements with particularity: (1) wrongful concealment by the defendant, (2) which prevented the plaintiff’s discovery of the claim within the limitations period and (3) due diligence in pursuing discovery of the claim.

Once a RICO claim accrues, a plaintiff must bring an action in four years.  A subsequent violation, beyond the four year time period, will not revive a cause of action for the previous violations even if the pattern of racketeering activity is same and even if a plaintiff is thereby injured.  The rule is liberal in that a defendant must show that a plaintiff knew or should have known of the existence of each element of the RICO claim, not simply injury.  On the other hand, the rule is consistent with the underlying purpose of a statute of limitation and thus under the rule a subsequent predicate act after expiration of the statute of limitations will not save a claimant by reviving the claim.

Inside RICO and Statute of Limitation