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#Cellino & Barnes lawyer wants receiver to help with lengthy breakup

Cellino & Barnes lawyer wants receiver to help with lengthy breakup

June 3, 2020 | 1:29pm | Updated June 3, 2020 | 2:35pm

Cellino & Barnes are having trouble becoming Cellino and Barnes.

Lawyer Ross Cellino wants a judge to appoint a receiver to help him wind up his lengthy breakup from partner Stephen Barnes, new court papers show.

Cellino — who sued to split from Barnes in 2017 — says while he and Barnes finally agreed to the dissolution in January, the pair has “failed to reach final agreement regarding the winding up issues,” despite several talks between their lawyers from March through May, according to new papers filed in Erie County Supreme Court on Tuesday.

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Now, Cellino is asking for lawyer John Schmidt Jr. to be appointed to oversee tying up loose ends at the firm — known for its catchy jingle, “Don’t wait, call 8!,” and easy-to-remember phone number, (800) 888-8888.

The receiver’s duties would include running the day-to-day operations, calling clients to see which lawyer they want to continue to work with and setting aside between $10 million and $20 million to pay off debts, judgments and fees in pending lawsuits involving the firm.

The receiver would also “control all litigation” the firm faces, including a case that Barnes’ longtime girlfriend, Ellen Strum, filed against Cellino and the company claiming that Cellino withheld $1 million in legal fees she is owed to get back at Barnes.

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Cellino is also asking that both he and Barnes be allowed to press forward with their new and separate law firms, the court papers say.

Lawyers for Cellino and Barnes — separately — did not immediately return a request for comment.

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