A North Carolina bankruptcy judge has approved the appointment of an 11-member committee of talc claimants in the Chapter 11 case of Johnson & Johnson subsidiary LTL Management LLC, saying he would entertain proposed additions or changes to the group after dealing with a venue transfer.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge J. Craig Whitley said he was adopting the committee as proposed by the U.S. bankruptcy administrator because the claimants need to get to work on coordinating their efforts in the case. But the judge said if the case were to be sent to another court, he didn’t want to prejudge any of the applications for additional members to the committee.
The claims alleged that exposure to the company’s talc caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
The venue issue arises from the bankruptcy administrator’s separate motion to transfer the Chapter 11 case to either New Jersey, where multidistrict litigation is pending against LTL’s ultimate parent J&J, or Delaware, where related talc bankruptcy cases are pending. Judge Whitley followed up that motion with an order to show cause directing the debtor to argue why the case should stay in Charlotte, where LTL has only the most tenuous of ties and where the bench has an already overburdened docket.
The proceedings continued within the week, with Judge Whitley hearing arguments and testimony on LTL’s motion to extend the Chapter 11 stay of litigation to J&J and New JJCI so that the thousands of talc suits would be paused against those parent entities.
LTL filed for bankruptcy Oct. 14 after Old JJCI executed its Texas two-step to deal with legacy talc liability. J&J seeded the debtor with $2 billion in cash through a funding agreement that is supposed to fund recoveries by the tens of thousands of personal injury claimants. LTL also received royalty streams projected to bring in $350 million in revenue to the debtor.