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Former employees of Heller Ehrman sued at least 179 former partners on Friday, including former Chairman Matthew Larrabee, demanding they fork over $32 million for the largest group of creditors in the defunct firm’s bankruptcy.

Former employees of Heller Ehrman sued at least 179 former partners on Friday, including former Chairman Matthew Larrabee, demanding they fork over $32 million for the largest group of creditors in the defunct firm’s bankruptcy.

The suit targets all partners who were at the firm on Aug. 11, 2008, when 60 days’ notice should have been given to the first employees laid off on Oct. 10, said Craig Collins, of Los Angeles litigation boutique Blum Collins.

Heller’s former shareholders prefer not to be called partners. They were technically shareholder employees of the professional corporations that composed the limited liability partnership, which could make proving liability for the LLP’s employee wages a little more complicated.

Steven Blum called that an “overly nuanced legalism” that splits hairs and won’t hold up in court.

“You have elaborate layers of curtains that the partners are hiding behind, and this lawsuit asks the court to open the curtains and reveal the wizards of Oz,” said Blum, who himself learned how to wage class actions as an associate at Heller Ehrman in the 1990s, including cases against PG&E and Visa.

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