The Appellate Division, First Department, yesterday granted leave for the Court of Appeals to hear an appeal of a decision allowing an attorney to reopen his divorce settlement to factor in investments made worthless by the Bernard L. Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme. The majority on a First Department panel ruled 3-2 earlier this year that attorney Steven Simkin was denied an equitable settlement with his ex-wife, Laura Blank, because he paid her half the amount in a $5.4 million investment fund being held in Mr. Simkin’s name with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Mr. Simkin, a partner who heads the real estate group at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, learned the amount left to him was worthless when Mr. Madoff’s scheme unraveled.
The panel held that the divorce pact should be reopened based on the couple’s “material, mutual” mistake about the value of the fund (NYLJ, Jan. 5). Other assets in the settlement included the distribution of a Scarsdale house, a Manhattan apartment and cars. Richard D. Emery of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, who represents Ms. Blank, said he did not expect to appear before the Court of Appeals for oral arguments until September or October. — Joel Stashenko
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