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A public sparring match is set to take place between Tower Snow Jr., the former chairman of now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, and Ronald Greenspan, the firm’s bankruptcy trustee. The opponents will square off in either bankruptcy court or before a jury in district court. Snow asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali to allow a jury to hear Greenspan’s $2.7 million suit against him. But on Friday, Greenspan’s lawyer filed a motion asking the judge to deny Snow’s request. Bennett Murphy, a partner at Los Angeles’ Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman, argued that Greenspan is seeking a return of distributions Snow received unlawfully — not money damages under contract or tort — and that such claims do not trigger a jury trial. Murphy also said the bankruptcy court has jurisdiction over the matter, noting that Snow went through the court in obtaining releases of liability from former Brobeck partners and other parties. Snow’s attorney, John Dwyer, said that under recent case law it’s clear that Snow has a right to a jury trial. Greenspan claims Snow received distributions from Brobeck when the firm was insolvent, in violation of the California Corporations Code and state and federal fraudulent conveyance law. In a footnote in Friday’s filing, Greenspan says he is not contesting Snow’s right to a jury trial under claims relating to fraudulent conveyance law, only under the corporations code. Dwyer, a partner at Cooley Godward, said he wouldn’t have expected Greenspan to split the case and argue that half the claims could be heard by a jury, just to keep half out. “We’re surprised they are so afraid of a jury trial they are willing to drop half their claims,” he said. Montali is scheduled to hold a hearing on Snow’s request June 30. In January, Greenpan sued Snow and other former Brobeck partners for distributions they received from the firm in 2001 and 2002. As of last month, 212 partners had settled for amounts less than Greenspan cited in his complaints; Snow and 15 other former partners have not settled. In his filing Friday, Murphy also swiped at Snow for using his request for a jury trial to tell his side of the story about Brobeck’s collapse. He asked Montali to strike the bulk of Snow’s narrative. Snow “is not alone among former Brobeck partners in seeking to unburden himself by laying out his version of the Brobeck saga,” Murphy wrote. “That does not mean defendant is free to burden the record of this court with page after page of his competing view of firm history where the text is devoid of any relationship either to the allegations of the trustee or the affirmative defenses of the defendant.” Separately, Greenspan has begun to deal with claims against Brobeck’s estate. He recently filed a document with the court specifying which of the claims by 450 unsecured creditors he would allow. Keker & Van Nest may yet be paid for representing Brobeck and two former partners, Debra Pole and William Fitzgerald, in a breach of contract suit. Greenspan approved $374,224 of the $385,031 the firm said it is owed. Among other claims, the trustee is allowing $474,661 of Cable News Network’s request and $1.17 million of the claim by Bowne Business Solutions. Murphy said the trustee has yet to consider claims by Brobeck’s landlords and a couple hundred employees. “We anticipate filing objections to part of the employees’ claims,” Murphy said.

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