Herrick’s Work on Behalf of Well-Renowned Bankruptcy Professors Supported Dismissal
In October 2021, LTL Management LLC (“LTL”), an entity created by Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) to hold its liabilities to cancer victims exposed to talc in J&J’s products, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Herrick team filed amicus briefs on behalf of a group of well-renowned bankruptcy professors in support of the Official Committee of Talc Claimants’ motion to dismiss LTL’s chapter 11 case.
The matter was originally heard before the Bankruptcy Court, where the court denied a motion seeking to dismiss LTL’s Chapter 11 case on the basis that it was brought in bad faith. The appeal from that decision was then heard directly by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. We are pleased to share that the Third Circuit reversed the Bankruptcy Court’s decision and dismissed the LTL Chapter 11 case.
Herrick’s amicus briefs argued that J&J created LTL with the sole intention of protecting J&J’s assets from its talc victims. While this was not the first time a company has sought bankruptcy relief to address its mass tort litigation exposure, the briefs emphasized that the strategy in this case—namely, J&J’s use of a divisive merger mechanism referred to as the “Texas Two-Step” to funnel all of its talc liabilities into a non-operating entity only for that entity to file for bankruptcy—was an egregious misuse of the bankruptcy system.
The Third Circuit stated in its opinion, “We start, and stay, with good faith. Good intentions—such as to protect J&J brand or comprehensively resolve litigation—do not suffice alone. What counts to access the Bankruptcy Code’s safe harbor is to meet its intended purposes. Only a putative debtor in financial distress can do so. LTL was not. Thus we dismiss its petition.”
The Herrick team included Sean E. O’Donnell, Stephen B. Selbst, Steven B. Smith and Silvia Stockman.
A copy of the Third Circuit opinion is available here.