Judge In Mets Case Will Decide On Dismissal By End Of September
The judge presiding over the $1B lawsuit filed against Mets Owners the Wilpon family and Saul Katz by Bernie Madoff trustee Irving Picard said Friday that he "will decide if the case should go forward by the end of September," according to Michael O'Keeffe of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff during Friday's hearing "gave no indication on how he might rule on Picard's lawsuit." But O'Keeffe noted Rakoff "seemed skeptical of several points raised by Picard's attorney, David Sheehan, and he gave the Mets' owners a little bit of a victory when he said the entire case would remain in district court rather than sending part of it to bankruptcy court." Rakoff last month ordered the case removed to district court, where the Mets and their lawyers "believe they have a better chance at a fair hearing." Also during Friday's hearing, the judge "scheduled a two-week trial to begin on March 5, 2012, but he emphasized that he was merely putting the trial on his calendar to save time in case he allows the proceeding to move forward." The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last week ruled that "investors in Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme who walked away with more money than they invested cannot recover funds based on their final account statements," and Rakoff Friday asked lawyers for both sides to explain how that ruling "affects their arguments, if at all" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/20).
DOWN THE LINE: In N.Y., Sandomir & Belson reported Rakoff last Friday "raised the prospect that all or part" of Picard's suit "could wind up decided in a public trial before a jury." But the judge "could still grant the team's owners their greatest wish, a dismissal of the case." Rakoff ordered that both sides "must begin to provide each other with additional material concerning the team owners' decades of investing with Madoff." Sandomir & Belson noted in holding out the possibility of a trial, the judge may be "trying to encourage a settlement between" Picard and the Mets owners. The possibility that the Mets owners "could have more of their financial dealings made public, and could have to testify in open court about their long relationship with Madoff, might well be an unappealing outcome" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/20). On Long Island, Anthony DeStefano noted Picard and the Mets owners "have been in mediation" led by former N.Y. Gov. Mario Cuomo, "who attended the hearing Friday and said the hearing might help both sides decide whether to settle or go to trial." Cuomo said outside the courtroom, "This was a very helpful exercise." But a legal source said that the two sides "are far from a settlement" (NEWSDAY, 8/20).