Cyber resilience is an essential component of modern-day life in corporate America. It is critical that companies of all sizes take reasonable steps to prepare for an adverse cyber event that is, in all likelihood, inevitable in today’s business climate. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a heightened cyber threat to companies that have increasingly embraced remote employment, as well as to critical industries including medical manufacturers and suppliers, financial services, healthcare, and others. Industry data indicates that cyber criminals have recently increased phishing campaigns and malware attacks. In times such as these, it is prudent for a company to evaluate its cyber-risk management and resilience practices – its ability to execute and deliver its business function following an adverse cyber event. More »
While the world is rightly focused on stemming the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the future holds a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions. How bad will the pandemic become and how many lives will be lost? Will the world see waves of COVID-19 outbreaks in the future? Will medical researchers develop a treatment or vaccine to manage COVID-19? How long will humans have to engage in social distancing? How will the current pandemic impact the world economy, and will we fall into a global recession? Far down the list of questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is whether the crisis will result in a flood of negligence claims filed by individuals afflicted with coronavirus illnesses against a host of potential defendants, including medical providers, nursing homes and senior care facilities, businesses and premises owners, individuals, private schools and universities, and personal protective equipment manufacturers, to name a few of the potential targets. More likely than not, the answer to this question is that yes, negligence claims against these and other classes of defendants will follow. The thought of that probably leaves a lot of people uncomfortable, since many of these potential defendants are the ones working tirelessly to treat those suffering from coronavirus illnesses and to protect the rest of society from getting sick.
How these negligence claims will be treated remains to be seen, and while the black letter law for negligence is well-developed in the United States, never has negligence law been examined in the era of modern litigation in a situation like the current one, where quick action is necessary, so many lives are at risk and those who are most vulnerable to liability are also those acting in good faith and selflessly to help others. The standard of care applied to defendants named in COVID-19 negligence claims will play a major role in the outcome of these future cases and will greatly impact the ability of defendants named in those cases to minimize their liability. More »
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States our first thoughts are with those immediately affected and how we all can help slow its further spread. The toll the disease has already taken worldwide is significant, and at present it is hard to predict the ultimate cost both in lives and to our economy. We are confident that the virus will be brought under control, but in the meantime, our clients will face a multitude of questions regarding potential insurance coverage for losses arising from COVID-19 mitigation efforts. This post considers the potential arguments for and against coverage for COVID-19 business interruption losses under typical commercial property coverages. More »
How could disease outbreaks impact commercial property and general liability insurance? The CGL policy will typically address a disease pandemic under three areas of exclusion within the policy: (1) Bodily Injury Exclusion; (2) Business Interruption Exclusion; and (3) the Pollutant Exclusion. Courts throughout the country treat these exclusions very differently and therefore counsel should be consulted to assist the claims unit and potentially underwriting in applying the policy to a coverage request under the policy.
The standard commercial general liability policy includes “disease” under its definition of bodily injury. Barring any coverage-altering endorsements (and depending on the state and the specific terms of the policy), it would appear that there is a debate as to coverage if an insured is found liable for accidentally helping spread a disease; for example, if a music venue did not take adequate precautions to halt the spread of an infectious disease on its premises. McMahon, Lucian, "Commercial insurance, diseases, epidemics." Insurance Information Institute, The Triple-I Blog. April 12, 2017. But just as with commercial property policies, liability policies often include pollution exclusions. How pollution is defined – and how broadly a court will interpret the scope of the exclusion – will all impact whether liability arising out of a disease outbreak is covered or not. Id. A policy may also include exclusions for any liability arising out of communicable diseases, just like the exclusions found in personal liability insurance policies. Id. More »
As the world responds to the current coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19, insurance companies will now, more than ever, be looked upon to respond to the widespread impact on businesses in all industries, including the impact on employees, their families and customers. It is a virtual certainty that in the coming days and months, employers will face an avalanche of claims relating to exposure to COVID-19. Those employers may look to their Workers Compensation and Employers Liability policies for coverage. Part One of a standard Workers Compensation policy provides coverage for an employer's statutory liabilities under workers compensation law, while Part Two provides coverage for liabilities arising out of employees' job-related injuries that are not otherwise covered under workers compensation law(s). More »
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Issues Informational Memorandum on Insurer Continuity of Operation Plans on COVID-19
On March 16, 2020, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation ("OIR") issued an Informational Memorandum OIR-20-03M. In that Memorandum, the Commissioner urged all regulated insurers to heed the guidance memos from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), as well as the Florida Department of Health ("DOH"), for businesses and employers. All companies regulated by the state OIR are required to review and update all Business Continuity Plans and/or Continuity of Operations “immediately”. Such operations as policy issuance, premium collection, claims adjustment and payment, and policyholder services, must account for DOH and CDC guidance surrounding COVID-19. The OIR required immediate notice to the department by any regulated insurer, if that insurer has had to activate its Business Continuity or Continuity of Operations plans. Insurers must advise the DOI the date the plan was activated, and the name, phone number and email address of the company’s point of contact for continuity plan activation. Further, if in response to COVID-19 any business operations are compromised to the extent it may jeopardize ability to provide essential services to policyholders the company must immediately notify the DOI, by providing detailed information regarding the extent to which business operations are compromised, including how it impacts policyholders, and provide the name, phone number and email address of the point of contact for that issue.
Coauthored by: Matin Fallahi, Law Clerk
In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused economic distress in a short period of time, the United States House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). After approval from the Senate, the President officially signed the act on Wednesday March 18, 2020. This Act and its long-term impacts are just as unknown as the virus itself.
The legislation provides free coronavirus testing and paid emergency leave for those diagnosed with COVID-19 or those caring for a family member with the virus. The FFCRA applies to any employer with less than 500 employees in hopes to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the United States while also providing a sense of hope and security for employees. As such, the Act will largely impact small to medium businesses who previously did not have to provide paid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). More »
Cruise lines are once again in the line of fire as another pathogen wreaks havoc around the globe. As the number of COVID-19 (otherwise known as the “Coronavirus”) infections accelerates globally, the cruise industry may be one of the virus’ largest victims. At present the Grand Princess, which has been on lockdown is set to dock in California, after which its passengers will be transported and quarantined at a military facility as a result of the positive Coronavirus findings onboard. Meanwhile, a second Princess cruise ship—the Caribbean Princess will remain anchored offshore of Fort Lauderdale until further notice while two crew members are tested for the Coronavirus. The Regal Princess was finally allowed to dock in Fort Lauderdale after two of its crew tested negative for the virus. More »
CYBER RISK CLIENT ALERT: Facebook Settles Its BIPA Suit for $550 Million While Damage and Jurisdiction Issues Remain
All eyes are on the recent settlement in Patel v. Facebook, Inc., 932 F.3d 1264 (9th Cir. 2019), where a group of class-action plaintiffs (“Class”) alleged that Facebook violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Patel had already received a lot of attention primarily because the Ninth Circuit found Article III standing in the absence of actual harm.
Patel settled for a massive $550 million. This is the largest cash settlement seen in a privacy-related suit according to the parties, which is creating a lot of new-found interest in BIPA with speculation on how the settlement amount will impact future claims. More »
PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY CLIENT ALERT: Pennsylvania Mulls Repeal of Medical Malpractice Venue Restrictions; Both Plaintiff and Defense Bars Claim Victory From Study
On February 3, 2020, the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (“LBFC”) released its findings from a study of the impact of venue restrictions on medical malpractice cases. The LBFC warned that changes to the medical malpractice rules could lead to initial uncertainty in the malpractice insurance market, but also found no clear link between relaxed medical malpractice restrictions and the availability of affordable healthcare. This ruling left both the plaintiff bar and defense bar claiming an initial victory in the ongoing debate over proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s forum-shopping restrictions in medical malpractice cases. More »
- In Defense of Long-Term Care Facilities: Immunity, and What to do if There is Not Any
- Changes to Punitive Damages Coming to Missouri
- Retro-Fitting Reservations: The Re-Opening of Restaurants Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis
- Florida's Religious Re-Opening: Guidance For Faith Based Institutions To Mitigate Liability In Epidemic/Pandemic Events
- The Future of E-Cigarette Litigation: Is There One?
- Re-Opening States and Businesses and the Role OSHA May Play
- COVID-19 Pandemic Negligence Claims Update: Developing Legal Immunity for Health Care Professionals
- Michigan Governor Signs Executive Order Cutting Red Tape for Motor Carriers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Will Drug and Medical Device Manufacturers Combating COVID-19 be Subject to Tort Liability?
- Malpractice Mitigation: Utilizing Professional Standards as a Defense to Claims of Negligence in Epidemic/Pandemic Events
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