Johnson & Johnson Talk Proposal Group Says Spin-Off Will Create “Barriers”

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Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drug store in New York October 15, 2015. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson

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(Reuters) – A group representing people who claim that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products cause cancer said Friday the pharmaceutical giant’s proposed spin-off of the pharmaceutical giant’s consumer health will create new problems for talc applicants will.

The group known as the Talc Applicants Committee submitted opinion in the New Jersey District Bankruptcy Court, where the Chapter 11 case of the J&J subsidiary, which holds its talc liabilities, was transferred earlier this month. The subsidiary LTL Management LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in October with the aim of settling 38,000 talc cases.

J&J claims its talc products are safe. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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In Friday’s statement, the committee said that J & J’s plan to spin off its consumer business from its pharmaceuticals business would “create further barriers between prosecutors and assets that should be available to satisfy claims.”

It is alleged that if J&J becomes two separately traded companies, disputes will arise over which company is on the hook for a funding arrangement in LTL’s bankruptcy.

The committee also accused J&J of using the bankruptcy process as an advantage in litigation.

“It just doesn’t get any uglier for bankruptcies,” said the committee.

J&J said when it announced the split that the move had nothing to do with the talk process or bankruptcy.

A status conference before US bankruptcy judge Michael Kaplan is scheduled for Monday in Trenton, New Jersey. LTL’s bankruptcy was initially filed in North Carolina, but the judge there ruled on November 11th that it would be more appropriate in New Jersey, where J&J is based and where much of the talk process is pending.

The case is In re LTL Management LLC, US Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey, No. 21-30589.

For LTL Management: Gregory Gordon, Dan Prieto, Amanda Rush and Brad Erens from Jones Day

For the committee: David Molton from Brown Rudnick, Melanie Cyganowski from Otterbourg, Daniel Stolz from Genova Burns, Brian Glasser from Bailey Glasser, Lenard Parkins from Parkins Lee & Rubio and Jonathan Massey from Massey & Gail

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