Cincinnati attorney Stanley Chesley told lawyers gathered at a Louisiana State Bar Association mass tort symposium that taking RICO cases to MDLS can lead to "tremendous revenue."
"You gotta learn not to be frightened of it or try to predict what a judge will or will not do," he said.
He said that 39 states have eliminated punitive damage claims.
Chesley, and attorneys William Markovits of Cincinnati and John Climaco of Cleveland, made up the panel on "RICO and It's Role in Modern MDL" at the 10th Annual Class Action/Mass Tort Symposium held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans on Friday.
Chesley discussed how introducing RICO into MDLs seems daunting, but the main hurdle is to "survive a [Federal Rule] 12(b)6" and then proving specifically how the defendants have violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962.
"When it's laid out there it's something that made defendants' bowels go to water," Chesley said.
Climaco, who tried the first criminal RICO case in Cleveland in 1976 and the first major civil RICO case in 1982, said that civil judges used to scrutinize using a criminal statute in a civil case, but now it has become "extremely effective."
Using a recent example, Climaco pointed to a case against the makers of Dannon yogurt, in which the French company claimed health benefits associated with its Activia yogurt sold in the United States.
"That was a pure case of fraud," Climaco said. Dannon ended up settling that class action suit for $35 million.