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Madoff Victims vs. The New York Met’s Owners: Issues with Expert Witnesses

February 2, 2012

The New York Times recently published an article by sports-columnist, Richard Sandomir that contains a valuable lesson for attorneys when it comes to choosing expert witnesses. The article, entitled, “Expert Witnesses Faulted in Suit Against Mets’ Owners”, discusses the role that each side’s expert witness played in the standoff between victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and the New York Mets’ owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, as they prepare to go to trial. The Madoff trustee is suing Wilpon and Katz for 1 billion dollars, accusing them of benefiting from the falsified profits accumulated through the Ponzi scheme.

At the moment, however, what seems to be very crucial to this case are the expert witnesses from each side. As the article states,

The trustee’s lineup includes Harrison J. Goldin, a former New York City comptroller who faced ethical questions while in office. The Mets’ owners hired John Maine. No, not that John Maine, the sore-shouldered Mets right-hander whom the pitching coach Dan Warthen labeled a “habitual liar” during his last, injury-marred season with the team, in 2010. This John Maine graduated from Dartmouth with a history degree and worked as both a stockbroker and Smith Barney executive, but has not been directly involved in the financial sector since 1990. He now makes his living testifying at trials. As part of the new court filings, this Maine submitted a report supporting one of Wilpon and Katz’s bedrock defenses — that despite their real estate holdings, they are not sophisticated investors and had no reason to doubt, or investigate, Madoff while he was their trusted broker.

The trustee, Irving H. Picard, (after Maine’s credentials were presented) took the opportunity to attack Maine on his report, stating that he had,

…issued a report that lacked “any principle or methodology” and cited no “surveys, sources, books, treatises, industry guides, periodicals, studies or any other objective third-party analysis.”

Picard asserted that Maine is not qualified to make the statements or claims that he did because he is, in a sense, out of practice with the knowledge and expertise that comes with holding a full-time financial position.

Maine had been too long removed from a full-time financial post, and he even cited Maine’s failed attempt at running a trout farm. Picard contends that Maine’s work as a stockbroker and office executive in the 1970s and ’80s, and his “brief stint trying to raise trout,” were “outside the scope of the issues to be tried to the jury in this litigation.”

Although Maine’s resume listed over 1,000 expert witness retentions and 600 testimony appearances related to the securities industry, the plaintiff does not seem satisfied with the quality or reliability of his work. In contrast, the Mets’ lawyers were much nicer to the trustee’s expert witness.

Goldin wrote a report for Picard that stated that Wilpon and Katz did not carry out due diligence before offering employees at their holding company, Sterling Equities, an option to invest their retirement money with Madoff. Another Picard expert, Steve Pomerantz, who holds a doctorate in mathematics, cited 26 red flags that he said should have alerted Wilpon and Katz that something was, well, fishy during their many years of investing with Madoff. The Mets’ lawyers called their conclusions irrelevant and unfounded. But Goldin’s and Pomerantz’s credentials — and any fishing sidelights — were not questioned. The Mets had no comment on the case Friday or the factors that went into hiring Maine.

It is important for attorneys to verify the credentials of an expert witness before bringing them in to a case to ensure that the expert’s analysis is legitimate and justifiable. If, however, you are of the opinion that an expert witness, mediator or arbitrator is falsifying or exaggerating their CV, resume or credentials, Courtroom Insight encourages you to write a review on him or her so that others will have a reference when considering hiring them for a case. For more information on our review system, please visit Courtroom Insight’s website here. To read the complete New York Times article, please click here: Expert Witnesses Faulted in Suit Against Mets’ Owners


Source: Sandomir, Richard. “Expert Witnesses Faulted in Suit Against Mets’ Owners. The New York Times. January 27, 2012.

3 Comments leave one →
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