commodity fraud, RICO, corporate law, civil law


Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) has a civil statutory scheme that broadly allows "any person" to recover damages if he has been injured in his business or property by reason of a defendant's violation of section 1962 the Act. While the statute was aimed at organized crime, it has been used far more against legitimate businesses. Courts continuously wrestle with the broad language of the statute. The author discusses two questions regarding the interpretation of Civil RICO that remain unanswered: whether the same entity can be the "culpable person" and the "enterprise" under Section 1962(a); and if so, whether that entity can be held liable under respondeat superior for misconduct of employees or agents. By examining the history and development of RICO as compared to the CEA, which imposes strict liability against Future Commissions Merchants (FCMs) for their agents activities, the author concludes that unless congress dictates otherwise, respondeat superior should apply to FCMs in civil RICO cases.

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