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The U.S. Trustee wants a bankruptcy judge to deny Ruden McClosky’s plan to get financing to pay shareholders rather than unsecured creditors.

In a motion filed Friday, attorneys for U.S. Trustee Donald Walton objected to the Fort Lauderdale law firm’s emergency motion requesting post-petition secured financing to pay shareholders’ salaries and benefits.

The trustee appears to be siding with ex-shareholders, who are trying to block the merger of Ruden with Fort Lauderdale law firm Greenspoon Marder. The 58 former shareholders say they are owed $3.5 million in equity payments and don’t want current shareholders and creditors to be paid before them.

Once Broward’s largest law firm with 200 lawyers, Ruden filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month and announced the merger agreement calling for Greenspoon Marder to absorb Ruden’s remaining offices and some shareholders.

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