Four firms’ efforts to overturn a contentious and problematic bankruptcy doctrine hit a roadblock Monday.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali sided with the Heller Ehrman estate on four key liability issues in a ruling Monday, advancing its efforts to recover profits from four of the firms — Jones Day; Davis Wright Tremaine; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; and Foley & Lardner — that scooped up Heller partners as the firm cratered in 2008. Heller’s partners had agreed to waive their right to pursue so-called Jewel claims in order to facilitate orderly moves to new law firms. But Montali said claims allowed under Jewel v. Boxer — a decades-old First District case dealing with the break-up of a four-lawyer firm — can’t be waived in such circumstances. He agreed with the Heller estate that the waivers transferred property from Heller to the defendants without returning anything of value to the defunct firm at a time when it was insolvent.

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