Judge Fitzgerald has more than 25 years of experience as a Bankruptcy Judge presiding over commercial and consumer 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). 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 and now consulting with future claims representatives, mass tort plaintiffsâ€™ counsel, insurers and trustees as new cases and trusts develop. Judi 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 and continues to mediate consumer disputes in state and federal courts.
Before her appointment as a bankruptcy judge in 1987, Judi was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania, litigating with a concentration in complex frauds and criminal tax cases. 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, courses by the PA Council of Mediators, the Council of Mediators of Western Pennsylvania and others. She continues to train and to teach mediation skills and now serves as a mediator, arbitrator and judge in moot trials and appellate arguments in addition to her services as an expert witness and consultant. She has been appointed as a court expert in fee disputes, toxic tort matters, and discovery disputes. She is a member of FedArb, an association of former federal judges who provide expert witness, consultation, mediation and arbitration services. Judi also assists with multiemployer and trust fund clients regarding ERISA collection and withdrawal liability claims both in and out of bankruptcy court.
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 in the at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she teaches basic bankruptcy and advanced bankruptcy law.