Judith K. Fitzgerald

Judge Fitzgerald has more than 25 years of experience as a Bankruptcy Judge, having presided over matters in the Western District of Pennsylvania (where she was chief judge for five years) as well as in the District of Delaware (20 years), the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (9 years).  During her tenure as a bankruptcy judge, Fitzgerald presided over many significant corporate cases including: Flintkote, Kaiser Aluminum, Corp., Owens Corning, W.R. Grace, Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, Armstrong World Industries, United States Mineral Products, U.S.G., Specialty Products Holding Corp.,  Maronda Homes, Fleming Steel Company, Federal-Mogul Global, Innovative Communications Corp.,  Just For Feet, Inc., WorldClass Processing, Inc.,  Combustion Engineering, Inc., Peregrine Systems, American Pad & Paper Co., PHP Healthcare Corporation,  Color Tile, Inc., Italian Oven, Shannopin Mining,  Busy Beaver Bldg. Centers, and Papercraft Corporation.

Judi has unique experience in mass tort bankruptcies, having adjudicated more cases involving section 524(g) asbestos trusts than any other bankruptcy judge in the country. She has an extensive trial background and frequently served as a settlement judge and mediator. She was the sole judge hearing all chapter 13 cases in the Western District of Pennsylvania and Delaware for many years.  She has completed several mediation training courses, including the intensive, 40-hour Bankruptcy Mediation Training course offered by St. John’s University and the American Bankruptcy Institute, and now serves as a mediator and arbitrator in addition to her services as an expert witness and consultant.  Judi is a member of the Tucker Arensberg Board of Directors.

Areas of Practice:  Insolvency and Creditors’ Rights, Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation, Expert Witness and Bankruptcy Consultation Services.

Articles and Presentations:  Judi is a regular national speaker, moderator and panel member on bankruptcy, evidence and litigation topics.  Judge Fitzgerald is an author on bankruptcy law.  Among her publications are The Rutter Group National Practice Guide – Bankruptcy (ThomsonReuters) which she co-edits, and Bankruptcy and Divorce, Support and Property Division (Aspen) which she co-authored.  She also served as an associate editor of The American Bankruptcy Law Journal.

In addition to practicing law, Judge Fitzgerald taught contracts, commercial law and bankruptcy courses at the Indiana Tech Law School as a tenured full professor of law. She now holds the position of Professor of Practice at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she teaches bankruptcy law and advanced bankruptcy law

 Honors and Awards:  Among her recognitions, Judi was awarded the prestigious Lawrence P. King Award for her professionalism and actions to expand the scope of educational opportunities for bankruptcy professionals.  She was designated as one of the top 10 bankruptcy jurists of the year several times by Turnaround and Workouts.

Memberships and Activities:  Judi has served many professional organizations with distinction, including as:

  • An elected member of the American Law Institute
  • A Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy
  • Chair of the Bankruptcy Section Executive Council of the Commercial Law League of America
  • President of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges
  • Board member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and co-chair of ABI Mass Tort Committee
  • Founder of the Law Student Writing Competition and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference for the American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Founder and member of the Western District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy American Inn of Court, which now bears her name
  • Chair of the Audit Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association
  • Member of the Bankruptcy Judges’ Advisory Committee of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, which she chaired for two years
  • Member of the Education Committee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

 Jurisdictions:  Judi is admitted to practice in the:

  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Tax Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Pa
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Education and Background:  Before being appointed as a bankruptcy judge in 1987, Judi was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania, with a concentration in complex frauds and criminal tax cases.

Judi earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and her undergraduate degrees of a B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.