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RICO: It's Not Just for Mobsters Anymore
Plaintiff Attorney Stanley Chesley unveiled a new model in Toyota lawsuits: a Racketeering-Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) claim against four Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) units. The core claim is that the four divisions, acting as an organized enterprise, perpetrated a "scheme to sell dangerous and defective vehicles." RICO was passed in 1970 to destroy the mob. However, nowadays it's hardly ever used that way. Because of procedural hurdles created by the courts in the 1990s, RICO cases are hard to prove, though that doesn't stop them from being filed. Nonetheless, if a RICO suit is won, the impact is powerful: Plaintiffs can get treble damages, plus attorneys fees.