Under state and federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced & Criminal Organizations), civil liability is based upon proof of criminal predicate acts, and provides for an award of treble damages for a person injured thereby. Georgia’s RICO statute defines the predicate as an “interrelated pattern of criminal activity motivated by or the effect of which is pecuniary gain or economic or physical threat or injury.” I won’t go into the complexities of what criminal offenses qualify as predicate acts. However, the criminal predicate acts need not have been prosecuted as crimes. Of course, the burden of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Now — in a notable win for my good friend Bill Stone of Baxley — the Georgia Supreme Court has clarified that in a civil RICO case, the burden of proof is “preponderance of evidence” (greater weight of the evidence) rather than the higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence,” the standard for award of punitive damages in Georgia, which the Court of Appeals had applied. See the court’s opinion below.

The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).