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Former Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison employees appear unlikely to collect any severance pay from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. At a hearing Tuesday, Senior U.S. District Judge William Schwarzer dismissed arguments by the employees’ attorneys that Morgan Lewis bears liability because it hired dozens of Brobeck lawyers and purchased Brobeck’s furniture and equipment before the employees were terminated. Schwarzer questioned how Morgan Lewis could be responsible for giving notice to the plaintiffs since the firm never hired them. “You’re going after the purchaser because it’s the only one available,” Schwarzer said. “That’s the problem in this case. Your acrobatic reading of the splits in responsibility” between Brobeck and Morgan Lewis does not bear out. The former employees filed suit against Brobeck and MorganLewis, claiming that under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, the firms should have provided 60 days’ notice of Brobeck’s closure or, alternatively, 60 days’severance pay. The case against Brobeck was stayed when the defunct firm went into bankruptcy proceedings. In a tentative ruling earlier this month Schwarzer granted Morgan Lewis’ motion to dismiss the case, McCaffrey v. Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, C03-2082. The judge has yet to issue a final order.

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