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Cancer victims urge US judge to dismiss J&J talc unit’s second bankruptcy

  • May 15, 2023

NEW YORK – Cancer victims on Monday urged a US judge to dismiss a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary’s second bankruptcy filing, saying that the company is abusing the bankruptcy system in its renewed attempt to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits alleging that J&J’s baby powder and other talc products caused cancer.

The J&J subsidiary, LTL Management, filed in April for bankruptcy a second time, seeking to settle all current and future talc claims for a proposed US$8.9 billion (S$11.9 billion). LTL’s first bankruptcy was dismissed after a federal appeals court ruled that the company was not in financial distress and therefore not eligible for bankruptcy.

Plaintiffs have filed more than 38,000 lawsuits that have been consolidated in federal court in New Jersey alleging that J&J talc products sometimes contained asbestos and have caused their ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

They portray J&J’s actions as an abuse of the bankruptcy system by a multinational conglomerate valued at more than US$400 billion and in little danger of running out of money to pay cancer victims.

J&J and LTL have argued that bankruptcy delivers settlement payouts more fairly, efficiently and equitably than a “lottery” offered by trial courts, where some litigants get large awards and others nothing.

J&J has said its talc is safe, asbestos-free and does not cause cancer.

J&J said its new settlement offer has broad support from cancer victims, a claim disputed by lawyers who objected to the deal. J&J has not estimated the total number of talc claims it faces, and lawyers opposed to the deal said J&J’s settlement support number is inflated by claimants who have never filed lawsuits against the company and whose claims may not be fully vetted.

The healthcare conglomerate has not filed for bankruptcy itself. Instead, it divided its consumer business into two

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Minnesota Firehouse Subs Franchisee Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy | Franchise News

  • May 14, 2023

A Minneapolis Firehouse Subs franchisee has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing more than $1 million in debts, according to documents filed April 4.

MR Investments, led by Michael Ruoho, has two Firehouse Subs stores in two Minneapolis suburbs, as well as Pizza Man restaurants. MR Investments previously owned a third Firehouse location.

Ruoho’s attorney, John Lamey of Lamey Law Firm, provided no comment. Firehouse Subs did not respond to Franchise Times’ request for comment.

Ruoho listed liabilities totaling $1.14 million and assets totaling $68,376. MR Investments is based in Stillwater, Minnesota.

MR Investments received a $499,900 Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration in June 2020.

MR Investment’s Woodbury, Minnesota, location has equipment assets totaling $56,873, but the liquidation price amounts to $28,314. The Plymouth, Minnesota, store’s assets total just shy of $55,000, with liquidation price amount to $27,483. The stores’ fixtures make up nearly all of his assets, with $8,000 listed for inventory and $4,578 for cash and other financial assets.

Ruoho is one of a handful of franchisees under the Restaurant Brands International umbrella who have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year. RBI owns Tim Hortons, Burger King, Popeyes and Firehouse Subs.

Two large Burger King franchisees, TOMS King and Meridian Restaurants Unlimited, filed for bankruptcy in January and March, respectively. TOMS, a franchisee with 90 Burger King locations, cited a loss of foot traffic for its declining revenue. Meridian listed increased costs, as well as a low sales. Meridian has 118 Burger King units.

Premier Cajun Kings, a 19-unit Popeyes franchisee, filed for bankruptcy in March. The company’s owner, Manraj “Patrick” Sidhu, died suddenly in March 2022, which Premier said “triggered great operational instability.”

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