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Federal judge overseeing Madoff liquidation dies

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[January 14, 2014]  By Bernard Vaughan

(Reuters)  The federal bankruptcy judge presiding over the liquidation of assets related to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme has died, a clerk to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York said on Monday.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland, 84, died on Sunday, according to the clerk, Vito Genna. Genna said he did not know the cause of death.

Lifland was the longest-serving judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, for which he was previously chief judge, Genna said.

He was appointed to the bench in 1980, according to biographical information on the court's website.

Among his major cases, Lifland oversaw the asbestos-related bankruptcy of Johns Manville in 1982, power producer Calpine <CPN.N> in 2005 and the 2010 bankruptcy of video rental company Blockbuster.

It was not immediately clear which judge would take over the Madoff liquidation and Lifland's other cases.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Judge Lifland, one of the leading experts on bankruptcy law," said Amanda Remus, a spokeswoman for Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

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In a ruling on Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2011 injunction issued by Lifland that blocked two former Madoff clients from pursuing claims against the estate of a Florida businessman who was one of Madoff's biggest clients.

(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan in New York; editing by Eddie Evans and Dan Grebler)

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