Mr. Skelton is a Shareholder of the Firm and specializes in complex litigation, with a primary emphasis on securities fraud, merger litigation, corporate governance and statutory appraisal cases. Mr. Skelton also represents clients in arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Mr. Skelton has represented or is representing the following clients: New York City Pension Funds; New York State Common Retirement Fund; Federated Investors; Glickenhaus & Co.; Millennium Partners; MMI Investments, LP; Dolphin Limited Partners; Robeco Investment Management; M.D. Sass Investor Services, Inc; and Doft & Co.
Mr. Skelton along with senior partner Barbara Hart serve as Court-appointed Lead Class Counsel for the Beacon Classes in In re Beacon Associates Litig., 09 Civ. 0777 (LBS) (AJP) (S.D.N.Y.), and Lead Securities Counsel for the Direct and Income Plus Classes and Derivative Counsel in In re J.P. Jeanneret Associates Litig., 09 Civ. 3907 (CM) (AJP) (S.D.N.Y.). The team also served as Court-appointed Liaison Counsel along with the United States Department of Labor in the actions, coordinating the private and regulatory actions, and leading the Settlement negotiations with the settling Defendants.
On March 15, 2013, the Honorable Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted final approval of the $219 million settlement of Madoff feeder-fund litigation encompassing the In re Beacon and In re Jeanneret class actions. The settlement covers several additional lawsuits in Federal and New York state court against the Settling Defendants, including suits brought by the United States Secretary of Labor and the New York Attorney General. Plaintiffs in these cases asserted claims under the federal securities laws, ERISA and state laws arising out of hundreds of millions of investment losses sustained by unions and other investors in Bernard Madoff feeder funds.
In a subsequent written decision, with glowing praise, Judge McMahon stated:
- “The quality of representation is not questioned here, especially for those attorneys (principally from Lowey Dannenberg) who worked so hard to achieve this creative and, in my experience, unprecedented global settlement.”
- “I thank everyone for the amazing work that you did in resolving these matters. Your clients - all of them - have been well served.”
- “Not a single voice has been raised in opposition to this remarkable settlement, or to the Plan of Allocation that was negotiated by and between the Private Plaintiffs, the NYAG and the DOL.”
- “All formal negotiations were conducted with the assistance of two independent mediators - one to mediate disputes between defendants and the investors and another to mediate claims involving the Bankruptcy Estate. Class Representatives and other plaintiffs were present, in person or by telephone, during the negotiations. The US Department of Labor and the New York State Attorney General participated in the settlement negotiations. Rarely has there been a more transparent settlement negotiation. It could serve as a prototype for the resolution of securities-related class actions, especially those that are adjunctive to bankruptcies.”
- “The proof of the pudding is that an astonishing 98.72% of the Rule 23(b)(3) Class Members who were eligible to file a proof of claim did so (464 out of 470), and only one Class Member opted out (that Class Member was not entitled to recover anything under the Plan of Allocation). I have never seen this level of response to a class action Notice of Settlement, and I do not expect to see anything like it again.”
- “I am not aware of any other Madoff-related case in which counsel have found a way to resolve all private and regulatory claims simultaneously and with the concurrence of the SIPC/Bankruptcy Trustee. Indeed, I am advised by Private Plaintiffs' Counsel that the Madoff Trustee is challenging settlements reached by the NYAG in other feeder fund cases (Merkin, Fairfield Greenwich) which makes the achievement here all the more impressive.”
Several notable decisions were reached during the course of these litigations, including the March 14, 2012 decision by Judge Sand granting class certification notwithstanding that the Madoff-related feeder funds were not traded in an efficient market and thus were not entitled to a presumption of reliance under the fraud on the market theory. In re Beacon Associates Litig., 282 F.R.D. 315, 322 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). This ruling is significant because it bolsters investor protections, most notably in endorsing a line of cases holding that the statute of repose on 10b-5 claims does not begin to run until the last misrepresentation is made by a defendant as part of a continuing fraud. Thus, this decision held that all plaintiffs’ claims, including those claims that go back more than five years, were timely filed.
Mr. Skelton helped to achieve a $69,000,000 settlement in an action in Delaware Chancery Court challenging the merger between Xerox Corporation and Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. as well as structural protections for the class, including implementation of a majority of the minority vote.
Previously, Mr. Skelton has worked on a number of high-profile cases, including Federated American Leaders Fund, Inc., et al. v. Tyco International, Ltd. et al., In re WorldCom Securities Litigation, In re HealthSouth Securities Litigation, In re DaimlerChrysler AG Securities Litigation, In re Bayer AG Securities Litigation, and The New York Stock Exchange/Archipelago Merger Litigation.
Mr. Skelton has tried numerous matters to verdict or award. Mr. Skelton acted as lead trial counsel for the firm in the New York Stock Exchange/Archipelago Merger Litigation and Doft v. Travelocity matters, as well as numerous arbitrations. In connection with In re DaimlerChrysler AG Securities Litigation, Mr. Skelton's work was instrumental in securing a highly favorable settlement on behalf of Glickenhaus & Co., a major registered investment advisor and, at the time, the second largest stockholder of Chrysler, in a non-class securities lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler AG. Successful implementation of the firm's opt-out strategy led to a recovery far exceeding that received by class members.
Mr. Skelton's other reported decisions include Higgins v. New York Stock Exchange, Inc., 806 N.Y.S.2d 339 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. 2005); In re DaimlerChrysler AG Securities Litigation, 216 F.R.D. 291, (D. Del., Jun 11, 2003); In re DaimlerChrysler AG Securities Litigation, 247 F. Supp. 2d 579 (D. Del., Mar. 5, 2003); Tracinda Corp. v. DaimlerChrysler AG, 197 F. Supp. 2d 42 (D. Del., Mar 22, 2002); Doft & Co. v. Travelocity.com Inc., 2004 WL 1152338 (Del. Ch., May 20, 2004, modified June, 2004); and Lewy 1990 Trust ex rel. Lewy v. Investment Advisors, Inc., 650 N.W.2d 445 (Minn. App. 2002).
Mr. Skelton is a 1991 graduate of the Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Fordham Law Review, and a 1987 graduate of Providence College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics (magna cum laude).
From 2007 through 2009, Mr. Skelton was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pace University School of Law, where he taught Advanced Appellate Advocacy. In September 2011, Mr. Skelton taught Securities Litigation and Enforcement at Pace. Mr. Skelton has also lectured on topics involving securities litigation.