Family Law

Paul Weiss Partner Can't Get Divorce Deal Do-Over Because of Madoff Losses, NY Top Court Says

A partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison can’t revise his divorce settlement because his proceeds included $5.4 million invested with Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, New York’s top court has ruled.

The decision by the New York Court of Appeals reverses a January 2011 ruling allowing a do-over for Steven Simkin, who heads the real estate practice at Paul Weiss. The New York Law Journal and the New York Times DealBook blog have stories.

Simkin had paid his ex-wife, Laura Blank, $2.7 million in a 2006 divorce settlement to compensate her for the money held in the Madoff account. Blank, who is senior director of employee relations at the City University of New York, received $6.25 million in all.

Simkin sought to overturn the divorce settlement on the ground of mutual mistake and unjust enrichment.

Blank’s lawyer, Richard Emery, applauded the decision. “Finality is crucial in a divorce,” he told the Times. “And this ruling shows that you can’t reform a deal just because you want to shift your investment losses to your former spouse. A deal is a deal.”

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