Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Since coming into vogue in the mid-1980s, civil RICO has often been criticized and targeted for reform. Critics claim that civil RICO is too broad because it potentially applies to all commercial transactions.More specifically, opponents claim that RICO's inclusion of mail and wire fraud as predicate acts unjustly subjects all "legitimate businesses" to liability.For example, Representative Rick Boucher, sponsor of the 1989 RICO reform legislation, has stated:

"Fraud allegations are commonly made in contract situations, and all that is needed to convert a simple contract dispute into a civil RICO case is the allegation that there was a contract and the additional allegation that either the mails or the telephones were used more than once in either forming or breaching the contract."

Such criticism has led to numerous attempts by courts and legislators to curtail civil RICO. For the most part, these efforts have sought to emasculate civil RICO rather than to rectify isolated problems of abuse or over breadth.