ERISA Laws May Offer Hope for Madoff Victims

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Experts say that some of Madoff's victims may be compensated through lawsuits filed under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, also known as ERISA.

"There may be hope for some of the victims of Bernard Madoff's multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme," says ERISA Benefits Consulting, Inc. founder Mark Johnson. Johnson says that some of Madoff's victims may be compensated through lawsuits filed under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, also known as ERISA.

"The litigation will allege either a breach of fiduciary duty or a failure to provide investors with complete and accurate information," said Johnson, a consultant who serves as an expert witness in ERISA cases.

"Those who invested through a ERISA qualified plan may have the opportunity to regain some of their losses through this type of litigation," he said.    

Investment funds, banks and money managers are all potential defendants in this type of litigation because they have insurance under director's and officer's liability and errors and omissions coverage.

A recent website search produced more than 1.6 million hits for the search term "Madoff lawsuits." Some estimates have placed the potential liability for insurance companies at up to $6 billion dollars.

"Individuals who invested directly with Madoff are likely to uncover the least amount of funds," said Johnson. "However, those who invested through investment funds, feeder funds, hedge funds, funds of funds, and other entitles have a better chance of some recovery through ERISA litigation.

"It may be many years before Madoff's victims see any money," said Johnson. "But ERISA-based litigation may be their best hope of limiting the amount of damage Madoff did to small investors."

About Dr. Mark Johnson
ERISA Benefits Consulting, Inc. founder Mark Johnson has a 20 year career history bridging four closely related areas: 1) ERISA; 2) the management and financing of pension, 401(k), group life, health and retiree medical plans; 3) labor relations; and 4) personnel policy. In addition to a J.D. from the University of Houston, Mr. Johnson earned a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Massachusetts. Prior to his corporate and legal careers, he taught, researched and published as a fulltime university faculty member for 5 years and continues to teach on a part time basis, currently as an Adjunct Professor at Tarrant County College teaching courses in benefits and compensation, personnel policy, employee recruitment, training and evaluation, and business communication.

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DAVID MARGULIES
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