Burton Lifland, Judge on Bankruptcy Court, Dies

     MANHATTAN (CN) - Burton Lifland, the bankruptcy judge overseeing proceedings related to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, died Sunday, court officials revealed. He was 84.
     Lifland had been a former chief bankruptcy judge for the Southern District of New York and former chief judge of the 2nd Circuit's Bankruptcy Appellate Panel.
     The court noted that Lifland had presided over "significant national and international bankruptcy cases, including Johns-Manville, LTV, Eastern Airlines, R.H. Macy, Singer, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Bear Stearns Structured Funds, New York Post/Peter Kalikow, U.S. Homes, Lomas Financial, Allis Chalmers, and most recently, the bankruptcy of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities."
     Several innovations in bankruptcy law came to the Southern District of New York under Lifland's watch, the court noted, specifying those areas as "the use of outside claims agents; fee guidelines; establishment of a mediation program substantially different from mandatory programs; and the institution of one of the first electronic case filing systems in the Federal Judiciary."
     Lifland earned his bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in 1951 and his law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 1954.
     His 1980 appointment to the bench came on the heels of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978.
     The bankruptcy court's chief judge, Cecilia Morris, told the Wall Street Journal that Lifland died Sunday of bacterial pneumonia.
     He is survived by his wife, Elaine; sons, Howard and Craig; their wives, Patty and Cathy; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
     Lifland had been a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, which honored him with Distinguished Service Award.
     Other awards Lifland received included the Commercial Law League of America's Lawrence P. King Award; the Tina Brozman Mentoring Award; the Honorable Conrad B. Duberstein Memorial Award for Excellence and Compassion in the Judiciary; the Award for Contributions to Further Advance and Progress the Bankruptcy and Restructuring Field; the Leadership in Credit Education Award; and the Benjamin Weintraub Distinguished Professorship Award.
     The bankruptcy court noted Lifland's contributions to Chapter 11 Theory and Practice: A Guide to Reorganization, "Practical Prefile Considerations and Commencement of Case," and The ABI Guide to Cross-Border Insolvency in the United States. He had also been a contributing editor of Norton Bankruptcy Law.