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Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s former landlords filed a petition Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco to put the remnants of the defunct firm into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The three landlords claim Brobeck owes them a total of $50.4 million. The creditors are University Circle Investors, Brobeck’s East Palo Alto landlord; Equity Office Partners, which leased Brobeck space in San Francisco and Los Angeles; and Square 24 Associates. EOP and University Circle filed separate suits against Brobeck after the firm disbanded in February. And last month EOP affiliates filed suit against Brobeck and 166 former partners seeking $34 million in unpaid rent. Kenneth Brown, a partner at Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl, Young, Jones & Weintraub who is representing Brobeck’s liquidation committee, said he had not yet seen the petition and couldn’t comment on it. “Because Brobeck isn’t an operating business I don’t think it makes that much difference,” Brown said. “The firm has to liquidate its assets and distribute them equitably and that process is going to continue.” Brobeck has 20 days to respond to the petition. EOP declined to comment on the litigation. The attorney representing the three landlords, William McGrane, of San Fancisco’s McGrane, Greenfield, Hannon & Harrington, could not be reached for comment. Three months ago Stephen Snyder, the head of Brobeck’s liquidation committee, said Brobeck owed $56 million to Citibank, as well as $15 million to commercial creditors and an unknown sum to its former landlords. It’s unclear why the landlords took action now to force Brobeck into bankruptcy. “There are two primary reasons why creditors would file an involuntary bankruptcy petition,” said Michael Lubic, a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. “The first would be if they felt some creditors were being preferred over other creditors, and the second would be if they felt the debtor was not pursuing claims that would make more money available to creditors, in this case most likely claims against partners.” Lubic said Brobeck would surely convert to a voluntary Chapter 11 proceeding in order to remain in control of it. “It will be interesting to see if the creditors seek appointment of a trustee and what the grounds might be,” he said. Another set of creditors was happy to see the bankruptcy petition. “I’m very appreciative of the landlords doing this,” said Jayne Loughry, a former Brobeck senior counsel and one of the plaintiffs in a suit former employees filed against the firm. “If nothing else it will stop the shenanigans.”

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