Madoff Bankruptcy Judge Lifland Dies

Jan 14 2014 | 11:14am ET

The federal bankruptcy court judge overseeing the Bernard Madoff case has died.

Burton Lifland spent more than three decades as a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Manhattan, the last five of them dealing with the fallout from the Madoff Ponzi scheme. He died Sunday at age 84 from bacterial pneumonia.

Lifland frequently sided with court-appointed Madoff trustee Irving Picard as the latter sought to unwind Madoff's scheme and collect money to return to his victims. Among Lifland's crucial rulings in the case were to back Picard's plan to exclude both the so-called "net winners"—Madoff investors who, during the life of their investment with the conman, withdrew more than they put in—and indirect investors who lost money with Madoff through feeder funds.

During his time on the bench, which began in 1980, Lifland served as both chief judge of the Manhattan bankruptcy court and as chief judge of the bankruptcy appellate panel for the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. During those 34 years, he dealt with the bankruptcies of video rental giant Blockbuster and power company Calpine. He also helped write Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, dealing with foreign companies.

The bankruptcy court has not announced who will take over for Lifland on the Madoff case.


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