In a decision released Wednesday in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of cable company Adelphia Communications, the presiding judge said the motions by which one group of creditors sought the appointment of a trustee to oversee disputes and the disqualification of chief Adelphia bankruptcy counsel Willkie Farr & Gallagher constituted a “nuclear war button” threatening obliteration of a crucial $17.6 billion deal.

Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber’s strongly worded 113-page decision, In re Adelphia, 02-41729, previously filed under seal, clarified his order issued earlier in the week denying the appointment of a trustee but granting the disqualification of Willkie lawyers from participating in the disputes at issue. Willkie remains bankruptcy counsel to Adelphia.

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