Bloomberg News

Mets Owners Oppose Madoff Trustee’s Bid for Federal Jury Trial

October 15, 2011

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The owners of the New York Mets said a jury shouldn’t be called upon to decide claims of hundreds of millions of dollars against them filed by Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff’s firm.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York set a March 19 trial date for the trustee’s case against the Mets owners after narrowing by two thirds the $1 billion demanded by Picard from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz. The remainder of the trustee’s suit is based on bankruptcy claims that don’t carry a right to a jury trial, the team owners said in a court filing yesterday.

“No decision supports the existence of a debtor’s jury trial under these circumstances,” Karen Wagner, a lawyer for Wilpon and Katz said in court papers. “No jury trial attaches to these claims.”

Picard originally demanded $300 million in profit and $700 million in principal from the Mets partners in a complaint alleging they turned a blind eye to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The partners denied it.

To recover the profit, Picard must “simply” prove they didn’t give equal value back for money received, Rakoff said in his ruling.

The judge tossed most of the trustee’s allegations in an 11-count complaint in Manhattan federal court.

Rakoff said Picard could try to reclaim about $386 million, based on bankruptcy claims. Picard has also asked Rakoff to let him appeal the decision.

Amanda Remus, a Picard spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment about the filing.

The case is Picard v. Katz, 11-cv-03605, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--Editors: Mary Romano, Glenn Holdcraft

To contact the reporters on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net; Linda Sandler in New York at lsandler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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