Fordham Law

Fordham Alumni Win Landmark Recovery for Madoff Victims

April 29, 2013

Although they never met while they were students at Fordham Law, Barbara Hart ’92 and Thomas Skelton ’91 had much in common. They graduated a year apart and were both members of the Fordham Law Review. Both have fond memories of their time at Fordham. Barbara Hart '92Thomas Skelton '91

Now, Hart and Skelton are law partners at Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart PC, sharing a career high point after receiving final approval of a $219 million settlement of securities and ERISA claims involving investments with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities through Beacon Associates, the Income-Plus Investment Fund, and investments made directly with Madoff.

In granting final approval, Hon. Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York praised both the result and the lawyering, relaying that “Judge Peck told me that Ms. Hart carries the laboring oar” in these coordinated actions, and noting that “[i]n the history of the world there has never been such a response to a notice of a class action settlement that I am aware of, certainly, not in my experience.”

Judge McMahon went on to commend the team for their work, saying, “The fact that there was no objection to it reflects the hard work that all of you put into trying to get a global resolution of all of these cases. The settlement process really was quite extraordinary.”

Lowey Dannenberg represents the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 267 Pension and Insurance Funds, the Plumbers Local 112 Health Fund, the Local 73 Retirement and Annuity Funds, and the U.A. of Journeymen & Apprentices Local 73 Fund. These local unions were appointed by the court to serve as lead plaintiffs in the In re Beacon and In re J.P. Jeanneret class actions.

Now that the court has granted final approval of the settlement and the plan of allocation, the team hopes to get the money to the class members in record time. The settlement, combined with money the investors are expected to recover from Madoff bankruptcy proceedings, is expected to restore the bulk of the losses for the local unions and other class members.

The class members overwhelmingly supported the settlement and plan of allocation, with 100% of all class members who are receiving a distribution under the plan of allocation filing proofs of claim.