Marty Flumenbaum

Mark Madoff, R.I.P.

Mark Madoff, the oldest of Bernard Madoff’s two sons, committed suicide on Saturday, by hanging himself in his Manhattan apartment. Saturday was a significant day: the second anniversary of Bernie Madoff’s arrest for running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Mark Madoff’s lawyer, prominent Paul Weiss partner Martin Flumenbaum, issued a statement yesterday: “Mark Madoff took his own life today. This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy…. [Mark Madoff was] an innocent victim of his father’s monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo.”

Flumenbaum wasn’t the only powerful Paul Weiss personage named “Martin” with involvement in this case. Mark Madoff’s body was actually found by legendary litigator Martin London, a longtime partner at the firm who is now of counsel at PW.

As noted on his Paul Weiss website bio, “[t]he gamut of Mr. London’s successes is vast.” But his experience is primarily on the civil side, with occasional forays into white-collar criminal work. His docket generally doesn’t include violence and death; he’s not the kind of lawyer who sees dead people (e.g., a homicide prosecutor).

So how did Marty London come to find Mark Madoff’s body?

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Back in June, we bestowed Lawyer of the Day honors upon two of the nation’s top litigators: Ted Wells and Martin Flumenbaum, the co-chair and former chair, respectively, of the renowned litigation department at Paul Weiss. Given the sterling reputations of the two lawyers and their firm, it was a surprising development.

We recognized Messrs. Wells and Flumenbaum after a New Jersey judge sanctioned Paul Weiss and its co-counsel — Lowenstein Sandler, one of the Garden State’s leading law firms, and Wells’s former home (before he jumped across the Hudson) — for pursuing a “frivolous” and “ridiculous” legal claim on behalf of billionaire Ronald Perelman against his ex-father-in-law, Robert Cohen.

In June, Judge Ellen Koblitz ordered Paul Weiss and Lowenstein Sandler to pay Cohen’s fees and costs for opposing the claim; she scheduled a hearing to determine the amount. The hearing took place last month, and now we know the amount.

It’s nothing to sneeze at, even for firms as well-heeled as Paul Weiss and Lowenstein. And to add insult to (financial) injury, Judge Koblitz got super-snarky in the opinion setting forth her reasoning….

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Our typical Lawyer of the Day is an attorney you’ve never heard of, from a firm you’ve never heard of. It’s highly unusual for LOTD honors to go to a pair of legal titans, two of the nation’s leading litigators: Ted Wells (pictured) and Marty Flumenbaum, the co-chair and former chair, respectively, of the celebrated litigation department at Paul Weiss.

It appears, however, that the honors are deserved. The New York Law Journal reports:

A New Jersey judge has sanctioned two firms, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Lowenstein Sandler, for pursuing a “frivolous” and “ridiculous” legal claim on behalf of billionaire Ronald Perelman against his 85-year-old ex-father-in-law [Robert Cohen]….

Superior Court Judge Ellen L. Koblitz ruled that Perelman’s attorneys should have known that the claim was unsupportable. “No competent attorney could have missed the frivolous nature of this promise claim once the unhelpful testamentary documents were received,” Koblitz said in ordering the sanctions last Wednesday. “There was no legal or factual basis for the plaintiffs to proceed with their amended complaint given the evidence they had and the state of the law in New Jersey.”

Ouch — quite the stinging benchslap. The Garden State hasn’t seen such a slugging since the first season of Jersey Shore.

And other marquee names got dragged into this mess — a pair of high-powered lady lawyers, in fact….

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