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A jury will get to decide whether Tower Snow Jr. owes Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s estate any money. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali ruled Thursday that Snow, the former chairman of Brobeck, has a right to a jury trial in the $2.7 million suit brought against him by the firm’s bankruptcy trustee. Montali said he couldn’t accept the trustee’s argument that since Snow had been included in a settlement agreement the trustee reached with Clifford Chance, he had waived his rights to a jury trial. “The Seventh Amendment is not that easily traded off,” Montali said. The trustee claims Snow received distributions from Brobeck when the firm was insolvent, in violation of the federal fraudulent conveyance law and the California Corporations Code. The state statute holds that if a partnership distributes money to partners when it is insolvent, it has a right to take the distributions back. Trustee Ronald Greenspan did not contest Snow’s right to a jury trial under claims relating to the federal law, only those under the corporations code. But Montali said the claims relating to a partnership taking back a distribution were “parallel enough to fraudulent transfer” and involved a commonality of issues such that he had no choice but to transfer the case to a district court. Montali also rejected the trustee’s motion to have much of Snow’s response to the suit against him struck from the record. In the filing, Snow outlined his contributions to Brobeck and claimed that former partners had maneuvered against him behind the scenes. “I’m not moved to tears by a little narrative here or there,” Montali said, adding that he also had not objected to Greenspan’s use of bar charts in his suits against the former partners. Montali said he didn’t think the trustee would have to take discovery on specific allegations in Snow’s filing. Greenspan’s attorney, Bennett Murphy, argued that Snow was using the prospect of a jury trial as leverage. “Our motivation is not that we’re afraid of a jury,” said Murphy, a partner at Los Angeles’ Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman. “But we don’t want the expense and delay associated with a jury.” Montali quipped that it was a good thing Murphy was not a criminal attorney telling a defendant he shouldn’t go through the expense of a trial. The judge also heard arguments by counsel for 10 junior partners, who asked the court to toss out Greenspan’s suits against them. They contend they are entitled to be paid for the work they did prior to Brobeck’s collapse. Montali put off making a ruling on their motions.

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