Two years after Brobeck Phleger & Harrison LLP filed for bankruptcy, more than 200 former partners of the firm agreed to settle outstanding claims against them.


Under settlement agreements reached last month, they will pay $23.8 million.


"The partners decided to make peace, to put this behind them, to make payments for the benefit of the creditors and to move on," said James Miller, who was on Brobeck's initial liquidation committee and is now a partner at Snyder Miller & Orton LLP in San Francisco.


Since last November, a bankruptcy trustee has tried to collect on $258 million in liabilities from 1,145 creditors of the San Francisco firm, which imploded from heavy debt and the dot-com crash. The agreements, along with a settlement with one of the firms that hired many of the partners, reduce the outstanding claims against Brobeck to $209.5 million.


In papers filed last month in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco, 189 former partners agreed to settle $22.4 million in claims. On Feb. 28, 19 more partners agreed to settle an additional $1.4 million in claims.


Fourteen former partners have not settled claims.


Most of the former partners would not sign agreements until they were released from claims by the firm's landlords, which include Equity Office Properties, University Circle Investors LP and Kilroy Realty Corp.


Each partner has paid 10 percent of their settlement costs. The balance is due in cash by April 15, or in four installments through April 2006 at 12 percent interest.


Burkle Bumps


A Los Angeles Superior Court judge's decision not to seal certain documents in Ron Burkle's divorce, based on a new state statute, offers limited prospects for the Los Angeles billionaire to keep his marital issues secret.


Burkle, whose net worth was estimated last year by the Business Journal to be $1.9 billion, filed a motion last December under the statute to seal certain financial documents, including a detailed 1997 post-marital agreement.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the statute into law as emergency legislation in June.


Judge Roy Paul, in his Feb. 28 ruling, said the statute violates the First Amendment and is "overbroad" in its application because it allows the parties of a divorce to seal an entire proceeding, not just a portion of it.


Throughout his contentious divorce trial, Ron Burkle has sought to seal documents related to his finances and to his son, who is under 18.


Burkle has 60 days to file an appeal before the temporary seal gets lifted. His lawyer, Patricia Glaser, a partner at Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro LLP, said he is considering appealing.


In his ruling, Paul suggested the legislature take a second look at the statute and agreed the state has a "compelling interest in protecting sensitive data," such as Social Security or bank account numbers. He also said the ruling has no bearing on whether Burkle may seek sealing orders under existing laws. So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful. Earlier in the divorce, the judge redacted passages about the child from the files but retained most of the financial data.


Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at abronstad@labusinessjournal.com .

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