Facing tens of thousands of claims against Johnson & Johnson's ("J&J's") baby powder and other talc products, alleging that the baby powder contains asbestos and causes cancer, J&J put the talc claims into a separate entity called LTL Management LLC, which then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-October 2021 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. In re LTL Mgmt., LLC, No. 21-30589 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Oct. 14, 2021). J&J itself is not part of the bankruptcy filing.
The pharmaceutical company's corporate shuffling and bankruptcy maneuver is known as a "Texas two-step" bankruptcy, whereby J&J split its business through a divisive merger under Texas law and created a new entity to carry the talc liabilities. The Texas law allowed J&J to avoid accountability for the over 40,000 talc powder claims. The State's divisive merger statute, Tex. Bus. Orgs. Code Ann. § 1.002(55)(A), allows a company to divide into two separate entities. Because a divisive merger is not treated as an assignment of assets or liabilities, it is used as a strategic alternative to a traditional spin off or asset sale.Read More