A federal jury in Portland has ruled against a Bremen couple who sued their financial adviser after he persuaded them to invest in a fund that was tied to infamous stockbroker Bernie Madoff.

Daniel and Suzanne Goldenson, formerly of New Jersey, lost their case against John “Launny” Steffens, founder of Spring Mountain Capital, and the firm’s chief operating officer, Gregory Ho.

The couple sought $4.8 million plus damages for mental anguish.

Following a 10-day jury trial in U.S. District Court, the jury last month ruled that Steffens and Ho had done nothing wrong. Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. presided over the case. The Goldensons have until the end of August to decide whether to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

“We are delighted that the jury found in our favor on all counts,” said Jamie Kilbreth, an attorney with Drummond Woodsum in Portland who represented the defendants.

Madoff, a former stockbroker, investment adviser and financier, was the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme – the largest in U.S. history – that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. He was convicted and sentenced in 2009 to 150 years in prison.

The Goldensons filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Steffens and Ho. According to court documents, the couple claimed that Steffens and his firm did not provide them with information about where their money was being invested after they moved their investments from Merrill Lynch to Spring Mountain Capital in 2001. Steffens was a former Merrill Lynch executive, who left in 2001 to start his new firm.

Had they known about Madoff’s involvement, the Goldensons said they would have pulled their money out of the Ascot Fund – a fund that was managed by J. Ezra Merkin, a close associate of Madoff. In court documents, the Goldensons allege the Ascot Fund became a “feeder fund” for Madoff.

“Their claim was about losses in a fund that we didn’t manage,” Kilbreth said. “Their claim didn’t make any sense. I think the jury felt that it (the lawsuit) was a way to blame someone for the Madoff disaster.”

A statement issued by Drummond Woodsum said that the defendants were falsely accused for breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent misrepresentation, securities fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Drummond Woodsum said the Goldensons made $1.6 million on their investments in Spring Mountain funds, but lost about $1.1 million in a separate investment they made in the Ascot Fund.

Thimi Mina, who represented the Goldensons, said that his clients are considering their legal options, including an appeal to the First Circuit court in Boston.

“My clients respect the jury’s opinion, but are deeply disappointed by the verdict,” Mina said Wednesday.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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