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Lifshitz Gets Name Off Optionable Filing

The class-action heavyweight had been listed as a 'beneficial owner' of a client.

One of the mysteries surrounding class-action securities lawyer Mel Lifshitz and a limited partnership with ties to his law firm has been cleared up.

In an amended regulatory filing Thursday, Lifshitz's name was eliminated as one of the "beneficial owners'' of Colbart Birnet, a Delaware limited partnership that has been a plaintiff in more than a dozen class-action lawsuits filed by Lifshitz's firm over the past four years. The amended filing for


, a small New York brokerage-services firm, now lists only Ezra Birnbaum, a New York securities executive, and Eli Levitan, a lawyer, as Colbart Birnet's beneficial owners.

Two weeks ago, Lifshitz told

that the earlier filings describing him as an owner of the limited partnership were in error. Lifshitz said he would ask Optionable to correct the error.

previously reported that a Lifshitz family charitable trust is an investor in Colbart Birnet. In addition, a charitable trust set up by Lifshitz's law firm, Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, also is an investor in Colbart Birnet.

Colbart Birnet is an "affiliate'' of Pond Equities, a small New York brokerage that is a longtime client of Bernstein Liebhard. Birnbaum, one of Colbart Birnet's owners, is the president of Pond.

Lifshitz has said the investments by the trusts in Colbart Birnet are entirely proper.

But legal experts have told

that financial connections between lawyers and clients in class-action litigation can be thorny. Federal laws exist to demarcate the proper boundaries between attorneys and clients, on grounds that a lawyer's loyalty should be to members of the larger class and not a specific plaintiff.