Below please find League Business Leaders Network member Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s COVID-19 weekly digest, which includes our analysis of the most current legal developments related to this pandemic. To receive regular updates, news and information related to COVID-19, please register here.
- It Is Just a Matter of Time: How to Guard Against the Anticipated Wave of COVID-19 Personal Injury Claims
As the nation fights to halt the spread of the deadly virus, we have been drawn together by the common interest of ending the all-consuming public health emergency. Yet, we know that this time of shared mission and community will eventually draw to a close and the reality of tort law will reassert itself. In the coming environment, thousands of those who lost someone in the pandemic or those affected by contracting COVID-19 will be looking for targets on whom to assess blame and legal responsibility. Some suffering from the consequences of the economic shutdown will be looking for creative means by which to recover their losses.
- Checklist of Force Majeure Considerations in the COVID-19 Era
Across the globe, contracting parties are experiencing performance-related concerns resulting from unprecedented orders to shelter-in-place, closures of non-essential businesses, global travel restrictions, and social distancing/isolation policies that have been implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis. As a result, parties may be reviewing their existing contracts, especially the force majeure provisions, to determine whether performance obligations can be modified or cancelled in light of COVID-19.
- Joint IRS and DOL Guidance Tolls Certain Employee Benefit Plan Notice and Election Deadlines Until End of COVID-19 National Emergency
Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation
The Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have jointly issued guidance in the form of final rules and frequently asked questions (FAQ) providing relief from a number of deadlines imposed on participants and beneficiaries under employer-sponsored welfare and retirement plans. The guidance also states that the Department of Health and Human Services will adopt a temporary non-enforcement policy for similar deadlines imposed to non-federal governmental group health plans under the Public Health Service Act.
- SBA Extends Safe Harbor Deadline One Week, to May 14, 2020
CARES ACT Provisions for Small Businesses
To obtain a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (“Program”) applicants are required to certify that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan necessary to support [its] on-going operations…”
Industry and State Specific Guidance
- Governor Carney’s Plan to Reopen Delaware’s Economy in Response to COVID-19
Governor Carney has announced his plans for reopening Delaware’s economy, and it is premised on several factors.
- How Post-Secondary Schools Should Examine Accessibility and Online Learning in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Higher Education / K-12 Schools
With most colleges and universities having transitioned almost entirely to online learning in light of COVID-19, the accessibility of this new mode of teaching for students with disabilities – and the sufficiency of that accessibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act – has emerged as a key concern. The most recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (“DOE”), which enforces both statutes, contained arguably mixed messages as to whether schools’ accessibility obligations with respect to remote instruction have changed in light of the pandemic.
- Maryland Modifies Shareholder Meeting Requirements for Publicly-Traded Corporations and REITs
On April 14, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued Executive Order Number 20-04-14-02 as part of the ongoing state of emergency and catastrophic health emergency order that was renewed on April 10, 2020 (the “Executive Order”). The Executive Order is aimed at assisting publicly-traded Maryland corporations and real estate investment trusts with facilitating already noticed annual or special meetings of stockholders and shareholders by allowing for remote communication.
- Pennsylvania Governor Signs Executive Order Granting Civil Immunity to Health Care Providers
On May 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order providing a wide range of health care practitioners with protection from civil liability for good faith actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. This executive order is the latest in a series of actions taken by Governor Wolf during the past two months by which he suspended statutes and regulations to ensure health care providers are best equipped to deal with this health care crisis. Neighboring states, including New Jersey, have recently moved to grant health care professional immunity for their providers as well.
- Guidance for Pennsylvania Businesses in Counties Re-Opening on May 8
Labor and Employment/Pennsylvania
On May 8, 2020, twenty-four Pennsylvania counties will re-open as part of a three-phase plan to rollback Pennsylvania’s statewide stay-at-home and business closure orders announced in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those counties moving to the re-opening – or “yellow phase” – of the three-part plan on May 8 are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.