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Morgan, Lewis & Bockius denies that it conspired to bring about Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s dissolution. But in a court document Friday, Morgan Lewis said that even if the allegations by former Brobeck employees were true, it is still not liable to pay their severance since it did not purchase all or part of Brobeck. “The only assets Morgan, Lewis actually purchased from Brobeck were the $2.1 million in furniture, fixtures and equipment,” the filing states. The plaintiffs’ allegations of a conspiracy, it says, “simply do not add up to any ‘purchase’ by Morgan, Lewis from Brobeck.” The employees, led by ex-employee Robert McCaffrey, filed suit against Brobeck and Morgan Lewis for 60 days’ severance pay after Brobeck closed its doors in February 2003. The suit against Brobeck was stayed when the firm went into bankruptcy. The employees claim that Morgan Lewis –Brobeck’s prospective merger partner — is liable on the grounds it became a successor to Brobeck when it hired about 60 partners and dozens of associates and staff and that it is part purchaser of Brobeck’s business. In opposing Morgan Lewis’ request that the court toss the suit, the employees argue that by the time they were finally terminated, Morgan Lewis had essentially taken over the firm. But Morgan Lewis attorney Jiyun Cameron Lee, a partner at Folger Levin & Kahn, responded in Friday’s filing that employees received their first notice of termination from Brobeck on Feb. 4, 2003 — a week before a final notice was sent by Stephen Snyder, a former Brobeck partner who by then had joined Morgan, Lewis. Lee also refuted the employees’ allegation that Morgan Lewis may have known that the firm was disbanding before the Brobeck partnership did. The employees cited as evidence an e-mail exchange between then-Brobeck Chairman Richard Odom and Francis Milone, the chair of Morgan Lewis, just after midnight on Jan. 30, 2003, and a voicemail message Milone left for Morgan Lewis partners informing them of the exact time on Jan. 30 that Odom was to speak to Brobeck partners. Lee said these communications were about the failure of merger discussions between the two firms and not Brobeck’s decision to close its doors. “The suggestion that there was some kind of collusion between Dick Odom and myself is complete and utter nonsense,” Milone said in an interview with Recorder affiliate The Legal Intelligencer. “The alleged facts in that filing are completely inaccurate and misrepresent the testimony in documents.” Lee also denied that Morgan Lewis had commissioned a study on the cost of Brobeck’s liquidation to its partners. Milone asked his executive director to analyze the cost of the proposed merger deal to a typical mid-level Brobeck partner and compare that to the impact the firm’s liquidation would have on the same partner, Lee said. The principal reason for the analysis “was to determine whether the terms of the merger being discussed by the firms’ negotiating teams would, in fact, be attractive to individual Brobeck partners,” Lee said. Last week the suit, McCaffrey v. Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, C03-2082, was reassigned from U.S. District Judge Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland to Senior U.S. District Judge William Schwarzer in San Francisco. A hearing on the case is scheduled for April 8.

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