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A coalition of plaintiff lawyers thinks it can do better than a bankruptcy trustee when it comes to getting Clifford Chance to pay for Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s collapse. The attorneys — including some lawyers from Oakland asbestos litigation firm Kazan, McClain, Abrams, Fernandez, Lyons & Farrise, as well as lawyers from other firms — made an offer this week to purchase the Brobeck estate’s rights to a suit against Clifford Chance for at least $4 million. They’re chiming in more than a month after Brobeck bankruptcy trustee Ronald Greenspan proposed that Clifford Chance pay $3.75 million to settle the claim that it contributed to Brobeck’s demise. Greenspan is “going to look over the proposal and determine what to do next,” with an eye toward maximizing the value of the estate’s assets and promptly paying creditors, said his lawyer, Bennett Murphy, a partner at Los Angeles’ Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman. A lawyer for the group of plaintiff attorneys could not be reached. But Luther Orton, a member of Brobeck’s liquidation committee, said the group of lawyers has offered the estate $4.05 million, plus 5 percent of any amount recovered above that after costs and fees. He believes the bulk of that money would be paid at the suit’s conclusion, he said. “We were trying very hard to find people willing to come forward,” said Orton, with Snyder Miller & Orton in San Francisco. Greenspan could use the offer as a model to solicit more bidders, Orton added, though he’s not sure if anyone else is interested. The value of the suit has been a matter of dispute between the liquidation committee and the bankruptcy trustee. Greenspan has said Brobeck was likely already insolvent when former Chairman Tower Snow Jr. and 16 other partners defected to Clifford Chance in May 2002, according to papers he’s filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in San Francisco. The liquidation committee has argued against the settlement, calling Greenspan’s view “warped” in its court filings. Last month the committee suggested putting the claim against Clifford Chance out to bid, to see if others would finance it. The Kazan, McClain firm — though not part of the team bidding for the Brobeck estate’s rights — has already helped litigate the suit against Clifford Chance. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali hasn’t decided yet whether to approve the settlement proposed by Greenspan. On Wednesday, though, the judge did grant Greenspan’s request to disqualify a firm representing a large group of former Brobeck partners. Greenspan had argued that there was a conflict because Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl, Young, Jones & Weintraub, a Los Angeles-based bankruptcy firm, had represented Brobeck for several months just before it entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy last fall. “We have to find new counsel promptly,” said Orton, one of the partners who’d been represented by Pachulski, Stang.

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