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San Francisco—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 either in bankruptcy court or before a jury in district court. Snow asked San Francisco U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali to allow a jury to hear Greenspan’s $2.7 million suit against him. But on June 3, 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 that 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 is 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 the June 3 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 of Palo Alto, Calif., said that he wouldn’t have expected Greenspan to split the case and argue that half of the claims could be heard by a jury, just to keep half out. Montali is scheduled to hold a hearing on Snow’s request on June 30. In January, Greenspan sued Snow and other ex-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 recent filing, Murphy also took a swipe at Snow for using his request for a jury trial to tell his side of the story about Brobeck’s collapse. Murphy asked Montali to strike the bulk of Snow’s narrative. Snow “is not alone . . . 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.”

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