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Unprecedented: COVID-19 Litigation Insights, Volume 2, Issue 10
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, May 2021

Welcome to the tenth issue of the 2021 edition of Unprecedented. The big news from the past two weeks was the Center for Disease Control’s announcement of new guidance allowing fully vaccinated individuals to go unmasked in nearly all circumstances. The announcement was unexpected and sent governments and businesses scrambling to respond. Some governments, like my home state of Pennsylvania, reacted the same day to conforming their own requirements to the new CDC guidance...

Fair Trade Banking Presents Opportunities for Small and Regional Banks
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, March 2021

Recently, we have seen a flurry of congressional and executive activity on the issue of nondiscrimination in banking. In October 2020, Senators Warren and Booker, along with other Democratic senators, introduced the Fair Access to Financial Services Act of 2020. This bill seeks to prevent discrimination in banking based on “race, color, religion, national origin, and sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)...

Fourth Circuit Rules Debt Collection Provisions of West Virginia's Consumer Protection Statute Do Not Apply to Transactions Paid for at the Point of Sale
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, January 2021

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently decided that claims based on Article 2 of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act ("WVCCPA"), including claims based on its FDCPA-like debt collection provisions, do not apply to transactions where the consumer pays at the point of sale. In Hinkle v. Safe-Guard Products Int'l, LLC, Hinkle purchased a new car at a local dealership...

Congress Briefly Extends Part of the FFCRA - but Only the Tax Credits
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, December 2020

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act ("FFCRA") was passed by Congress this spring to mandate two weeks of paid sick leave for COVID-19 reasons and to extend the FMLA by creating a new reason for FMLA leave relating to the need for child care because of COVID-19. The details of the FFCRA were covered by the Spilman COVID-19 Task Force at the time of passage here...

2020 Pennsylvania Legislative Update
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, December 2020

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has concluded the legislative session. COVID-19 significantly changed the format and content of the legislative session. The operating rules were amended to permit remote voting, and the legislative focus centered on the impact of COVID-19 on schools, communities, businesses and the Pennsylvania budget for the FY 2020-2021. Below is a snapshot of some of the key areas addressed during this session...

Brexit Effects on Trademarks Beginning January 1
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, December 2020

Trademark owners with registrations in EU where the UK is designated should soon receive notification for treatment of registrations and applications following the Brexit transition period. The Brexit transitional period, during which EU laws and rights have continued in force in the UK, will end on December 31, 2020. Thereafter, EU Trade Mark and Design applications and registrations (and designations of the EU) will only cover the remaining 27 EU member states...

Coronavirus Considerations and Hot Topics Heading into 2021
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, December 2020

When much of the country locked down in March 2020, very few expected us to still be dealing with this pandemic in December 2020. And yet, here we are. In fact, coronavirus cases are rising sharply throughout much of the country, and the prospect of additional shutdowns is growing more probable by the day. Not all news is bad. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have produced what appear to be viable vaccines that could be available as early as this month...

Employers Must Be Reasonably Diligent in Tracking Employees’ Worked Hours, Even During a Global Pandemic
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, December 2020

Whether employers like it or not, there is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the modern work environment for many businesses. As employers across the country continue to allow, and even encourage, their employees to work remotely, we continue to see the questions and challenges that accompany the work-from-home model. Fortunately, not all of those challenges need be navigated blindly. The U.S...

COVID-19, the CARES Act and the Impact on Mortgage Forbearance
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, November 2020

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which provides a number of protections to homeowners unable to pay their mortgages. The CARES Act prohibits any home foreclosures before December 31, 2020, and allows homeowners to seek forbearance from lenders for a period of 180 days, with one extension of 180 days. The Act applies to all federally backed mortgages...

The Dome Report - West Virginia Turns a Brighter Shade of Red
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, November 2020

While yesterday’s federal election results from West Virginia were not a surprise, the down ballot races, especially for the State Legislature, clearly demonstrated what was a strong red wave that engulfed incumbents, swept away open seats, and cemented what may be durable majorities in both chambers for years to come.   As around the country, early voting enthusiasm also gripped West Virginia...

Ensuring the Enforceability of Electronic Arbitration Agreements in Virtual Admission Packets
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, October 2020

With the continued risk of the spread of COVID-19 in assisted care facilities, more and more facilities are implementing a virtual admissions process. This process includes providing all of the admissions documents, including an arbitration agreement, to potential residents and/or their legal representatives electronically. While it is preferable from a legal standpoint that the arbitration agreement be presented and executed in person, in today's world that is not always possible...

COVID-19 and Unprecedented: Litigation Insights, Issue 28
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, October 2020

This 28th edition of Unprecedented, our weekly update on COVID-19-related litigation, includes a number of updates on the mounting number of business interruption coverage disputes -- including a claim against a broker whose alleged failure to obtain infectious disease coverage left the insured without coverage for COVID-19-induced losses...

Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 Orders Fall Under Constitutional Challenge
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, September 2020

Since March, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and his administration have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by imposing some of the strictest limitations in the country on the Commonwealth’s residents and businesses...

DOL Reacts to Court Decision Regarding FFCRA Rules; Revises Parts of Their Old Rule, but Reaffirms Other Parts
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, September 2020

Last month, we discussed a decision out of the Southern District of New York ("SDNY") that invalidated parts of the DOL’s temporary rule that interpreted provisions of the FFCRA, the federal law that created both paid sick leave for certain COVID-related absences and a new category of paid FMLA leave for workers with COVID-related child care issues. Our prior summaries of the law can be found here...

Three Important Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic is Changing the Delivery of Consumer Financial Services
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, September 2020

  The world continues to come to grips with the daily changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools contemplate opening. Some do, while others do not. Some professional and college sports teams play games to empty stadiums. Some businesses are open, with restrictions, while others are not. Lawsuits are being filed by businesses that think they should be permitted to reopen like their neighbors who already have...

COVID-19 and Unprecedented: Litigation Insights, Issue 22
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, September 2020

In our 22nd edition of Unprecedented, our weekly update on COVID-19-related litigation, we see cases against employers continue to rise, and offer insight for employers to keep employees safe and simultaneously avoid lawsuits. In another notable update -- again for employers and business owners -- the Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed a case challenging the Governor's restrictions on businesses amid the pandemic...

All Virginia Employers Subject to New COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standard
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, September 2020

All Virginia employers subject to the jurisdiction of the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health ("VOSH") Program (i.e., practically all employers in Virginia) must comply with new workplace safety standards related to COVID-19. Known as the Emergency Temporary Standard ("Standard"), the new regulation requires employers to:   1...

Remote Learning and FFCRA Paid Leave Questions Answered by Department of Labor
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, September 2020

The Department of Labor has updated its list of FAQs about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) to address when employees would be eligible for Emergency FMLA leave when the employee’s child’s school is operating on a remote or hybrid learning schedule...

Crosmun v. The Trustees of Fayetteville Technical Community College Provides Much Needed Guidance to North Carolina Courts on How to Properly Craft eDiscovery Protocols
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, August 2020

The Court of Appeals of North Carolina's decision in Crosmun v. The Trustees of Fayetteville Technical Community College, ___ N.C. App. ___, 832 S.E.2d 223 (2019) provides much needed guidance to North Carolina courts on how to properly craft eDiscovery protocols...

Federal Court in New York Takes Issue with Some Sections of the Rule Implementing the FFCRA: What Does It Mean for You?
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, August 2020

In response to a lawsuit filed by the State of New York, a judge in the Southern District of New York considered and invalidated parts of the Department of Labor's (“DOL”) Final Rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”). The ruling, while currently only applying to employers in the Southern District of New York (i.e., New York City), could be instructive on how other courts consider the same provisions...

A 2020 Pennsylvania Legislative Update
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, August 2020

When the 2019-2020 legislative session began, no one could have predicted what challenges Pennsylvania and the General Assembly would encounter with the outbreak of COVID-19. The rules changed to permit remote voting, and the plan for the session shifted to a focus on the response to COVID-19. The 12-month budget was replaced with a five-month budget to allow additional time to assess the financial damage...

The Discharge in Bankruptcy - Open Avenues for Consumer Creditors
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, August 2020

  In a typical consumer bankruptcy, a debtor seeks the benefit of two concepts. First, the debtor seeks the breathing room afforded that debtor by the automatic stay. Second, the debtor seeks to discharge all debt obligations adjudicated in the bankruptcy case. Absent these protections, a bankruptcy filing serves little purpose. As a result, a creditor who can attack the debtor's entitlement to a discharge threatens the very heart of any filing...

Unprecedented: COVID-19 Litigation Trends - Issue 18, 2020
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, August 2020

This 18th edition of Unprecedented, our weekly update on COVID-19-related litigation, sees us return to what, even in these early days of the pandemic, must be considered as some of the hottest topics. Thus, we discuss new insurance coverage disputes from the owners of Cheers in Boston and the internationally known restaurateur Jose Andres in Washington, D.C...

Unprecedented: COVID-19 Litigation Trends - Issue 17, 2020
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, July 2020

This 17th edition of Unprecedented, our weekly update on COVID-19-related litigation, discusses everything from insurance coverage disputes to statewide shutdown orders. Despite an uphill climb towards liability, businesses continue to challenge their insurers' denials of COVID-19-related claims. At the same time, they are looking to Congress for help against potentially ruinous liability claims while also trying to shift current COVID-19-related litigation to the federal courts...

Proposed Amendment to the North Carolina Identity Theft Protection Act
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC, July 2020

In April 2019, with the introduction of House Bill 904, a bi-partisan effort was made to strengthen cyber security in North Carolina. H.B...

 

 

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