RICO — Rendering of Routine Legal Services ≠ Operation or Management

From Nastro v. D’Onofrio, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26323 (D. Conn. March 31, 2008):

To maintain a civil RICO claim, a plaintiff must show that a defendant "conduct[ed] or participate[d], directly or indirectly, in the conduct of [the RICO] enterprise's affairs . . . ." 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c). "[T]o conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of [a RICO] enterprise's affairs, . . . one must participate in the operation or management of the enterprise itself." Reves v. Ernst & Young, 507 U.S. 170, 185 (1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)....

Here, the Plaintiff has failed to put forth any evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that the Defendants, in their roles as an attorney and law firm, did anything more than offer their professional legal services to D'Onofrio The Defendants have submitted evidence showing that they were retained by D'Onofrio to (1) review drafts of trust documents in order to provide advice concerning the estate, gift, and income tax consequences of the establishment of the Trust; and (2) prepare required tax filings for the Trust. The Plaintiff has submitted nothing to counter the Defendants' evidence in this regard. In other words, there is no evidence that the Defendants' involvement in the transactions at issue exceeded their professional duties. ... [T]he performance of these duties would not make the Defendants liable under RICO even if they had knowledge of the alleged enterprise's illicit nature. Thus, there is no evidence they operated or managed the alleged RICO enterprise. The Plaintiff's simple allegation that the Defendants were involved in the operation or management of the alleged RICO enterprise is insufficient to survive summary judgment..

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