Just For Laughs Had Assets Seized A Week Before Insolvency Announcement

Just a week before announcing it was seeking creditor protection, Groupe Juste pour rire Inc. (JPR), the company that runs the iconic Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, had over $800,000 seized from its assets by a bailiff.

The seizure stems from a court-ordered payment that JPR failed to make to a former employee, André Gloutnay. In 2019, Gloutnay was laid off despite being promised a job for life by the festival’s founder, Gilbert Rozon. The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that the company must pay Gloutnay $666,500 to cover lost wages and future earnings until retirement, along with additional costs.

Gloutnay, who has an “encyclopedic” knowledge of comedy, according to the court, testified that Rozon offered him the permanent position in exchange for Gloutnay’s collection of comedy videos. However, when the court-ordered payment was not made, a bailiff seized over $850,000 from the company’s bank accounts.

During the trial, JPR’s lawyers argued that Rozon made the promise in his personal capacity, not as the head of the companies, but the judge rejected this claim.

Rozon sold his stake in the company in 2018 after facing sexual misconduct allegations, which he denies. He was acquitted in a criminal rape trial in 2020 but still faces multiple civil suits alleging sexual assault.

The financial troubles have now led JPR to cancel this year’s Just for Laughs festival in Montreal and seek creditor protection under federal bankruptcy law. PwC has been appointed as the insolvency trustee to oversee the process. The annual summer festival typically attracted around 180,000 visitors to the city, according to Montreal’s tourism organization.

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