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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

N.Y. Times: Sandomir: Trustee for Victims of Madoff’s Scheme Hones Arguments Against Mets’ Owners

The high-stakes arguments — the trustee is seeking $1 billion from Wilpon and Katz — are set to be heard, and perhaps decided, by Judge Jed S. Rakoff in United States District Court in Manhattan on Aug. 17. ...

Picard’s argument appears to result in part from the successful effort by Wilpon and Katz to transfer the trustee’s lawsuit from bankruptcy court to district court — a procedural victory for them.

Wilpon and Katz wanted the change so their dealings with Madoff might be judged under securities law, not the federal bankruptcy code. Seen merely as individual investors, they argued, they were under no special obligation to check out the trustworthiness of Madoff’s investing.

In a 25-page filing, though, Picard’s lawyers cite what they argue is a body of established New York and securities law that holds that ordinary individual investors — and not necessarily sophisticated ones — have real obligations to meaningfully check out warnings or hints of a possible fraud. ...

Rakoff could dismiss the case entirely or rule on certain critical issues, and return all or parts of the lawsuit to United States Bankruptcy Court.

bobm Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:14 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, mets

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   1. Sam M. Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:24 PM (#3886636)
This is a very smart move by Picard. It's a tactical retreat in one sense, accepting a "reasonable person" standard that may leave a fact-finder ultimately less willing to find that Wilpon and Katz should have known what was going on -- whereas under the approach Picard has been urging, a "sophisticated investor" would have been more savvy. But it seems to me it gives the defendants almost no path to a quick resolution -- the precedent accepting Picard's theory/standard is awfully solid, and that means he survives a motion to dismiss. And I'd be pretty surprised if he doesn't have enough to survive summary judgment as well. And that means we get to trial -- and time is the one thing Wilpon doesn't have. The pressure on him to settle (already great) is just going to get greater as the losses mount and his creditors press in.

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