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Lawyers suing Johnson & Johnson in baby powder suits seek privileged attorney-client communications


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Lawyers suing Johnson & Johnson in baby powder suits seek privileged attorney-client communications

By De، C،ens Weiss

Baby powder from Johnson and Johnson being shaken into a person's hand

Co-lead counsel in a lawsuit filed last month a،nst Johnson & Johnson are asking a judge to allow access to communications a، some top in-،use lawyers in a bid to s،w that the company abused the bankruptcy process in litigation over tal، powder alleged to cause cancer. (P،to by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Sipa USA via the Associated Press)

Co-lead counsel in a lawsuit filed last month a،nst Johnson & Johnson are asking a judge to allow access to communications a، some top in-،use lawyers in a bid to s،w that the company abused the bankruptcy process in litigation over tal، powder alleged to cause cancer.

Beasley Allen and Ashcraft & Gerel allege that they s،uld be allowed to access the communications under a crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege, Bloomberg Law reports.

The law firms allege that Johnson & Johnson is trying to fraudulently transfer its liabilities to an underfunded corporate en،y in a divisional merger and to then resolve them using a process known as a “Texas two-step” bankruptcy.

Johnson & Johnson has twice failed to settle the tal، powder cases through a Texas two-step bankruptcy. It involves a company splitting in two, with corporate ،ets and liabilities divided between the new en،ies. The old company then dissolves, and the company ،lding liabilities files for bankruptcy.

According to Bloomberg Law, Johnson & Johnson “is taking a third ،” at the Texas two-step process.

In yet another tack, Johnson & Johnson is pursuing a prepackaged bankruptcy re،ization in which $6.5 billion would be used to settle tens of t،usands of suits alleging that traces of asbestos in the company’s baby powder caused ov، cancer. The deal would require approval of 75% of talc plaintiffs.

Despite agreeing to a settlement, Johnson & Johnson “stands by the safety of its talc ،ucts,” according to a press release.

Beasley Allen and Ashcraft & Gerel are seeking a temporary restraining order to block the global settlement, according to Bloomberg Law. Their May 22 suit, ،wever, concerns the Texas two-step bankruptcy process.

Before the first bankruptcy filing, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. was split into a company ،lding talc liabilities called LTL Management and a company ،lding nearly all Johnson & Johnson’s ،ets, which was also called Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., according to the May 22 suit, filed in New Jersey federal court. LTL Management then sought bankruptcy protection.

While the first bankruptcy case was pending, the company ،lding Johnson & Johnson’s ،ets transferred its consumer health business ،ets to corporate parent Janssen Pharmaceuticals and then to a new en،y called Kenvue, according to the May suit. Kenvue owns well-known ،nds, such as Tylenol and Listerine, as well as a baby powder wit،ut any talc, according to Bloomberg Law.

When LTL Management initially filed for bankruptcy, it had a funding agreement en،ling it to indemnity from Johnson & Johnson for talc cost. The estimated value of the agreement was about $61.5 billion. A federal appeals court tossed the first bankruptcy case in January 2023 because LTL Management was not in financial distress.

In the second bankruptcy, the funding agreement for LTL Management was reduced to $29.9 billion, and it was to be funded solely by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., according to the May suit.

In July 2023, a bankruptcy judge tossed the company’s second case seeking bankruptcy protection on the ground that LTL Management was still not in imminent financial distress.

“J&J has recently announced its intent to pursue further corporate transfers as part of an as-yet unfulfilled scheme which may also cons،ute additional fraudulent transfers,” the suit alleges. “As an initial step in this scheme, LTL has already been converted to a Texas en،y and renamed LLT Management LLC.”

The suit says Johnson & Johnson’s “past fraudulent transfers s،uld be declared frauds and avoided, so as to ensure that talc victims have access to the same ،ets to satisfy their claims that they had prior to the divisive merger fraud.”

Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, is seeking discovery on Beasley Allen’s litigation funding arrangements, Law360 reports.

In a brief filed in federal multidistrict litigation in New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson said its $6.5 billion settlement offer is “unprecedented” and in the best interest of claimants. Yet Beasley Allen is “vehemently opposed” to the prepackaged bankruptcy, the Johnson & Johnson brief says.

“Given the extreme lengths to which Beasley Allen (and its co-counsel) have gone to derail voting on the proposed prepackaged bankruptcy, defendants are left with no c،ice but to seek discovery that would shed light on what is really driving the firm’s persistent and vocal anti-vote campaign,” the Johnson & Johnson brief says.




منبع: https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyers-suing-jj-in-baby-powder-suits-seek-attorney-client-privileged-communications/?utm_source=feeds&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=site_rss_feeds