Totowa law firm files for bankruptcy protection

A Totowa law firm has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors, including lawyers from other firms that assisted in legal work on behalf of former Prudential Financial Inc. employees, who more than a decade ago accused the insurer of discrimination and other improper employment practices.

The filing by Roper & Twardowsky LLC comes after a federal jury in Kansas awarded lawyers William J. Skepnek of Kansas and Steven M. Smoot of Texas $2.25 million for advisory and legal work farmed out to them by the New Jersey firm, for which they were not paid.

Roper & Twardowsky had asked Skepnek and Smoot to provide services to support litigation against Prudential and the New York City law firm Leeds Morelli & Brown PC beginning in the fall of 2002, according to the Kansas lawsuit filed in 2011, after a confidential settlement was reached in the Prudential case.

Roper & Twardowsky senior partner Angela M. Roper declined to comment Wednesday.

Roper & Twardowsky filed for Chapter 11 on Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark, claiming assets of $0 to $50,000 and liabilities in a range of $1 million to $10 million.

The Totowa firm listed three other lawyers as having claims: Gavin Lentz of Bochetto & Lentz PC in Cherry Hill, owed $497,000; Scott B. Gorman of Cherry Hill, owed $2.8 million; and William Gold of Bendit Weinstock PA in West Orange, owed $1.2 million.

The filing by Roper & Twardowsky is the latest development in a string of legal actions taken by lawyers seeking to get paid for legal work done on the complex Prudential case, said Gold, of Bendit Weinstock, who is owed about $1.2 million.

"I have counsel, and we are discussing what we will do now," Gold said of his bankruptcy claim.

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