Coronavirus COVID-19 Resources

 

Today, uncertainty for businesses and organizations is unprecedented. We want you to know that the well-being and safety of our clients and our firm is our top priority. We have implemented our business continuity plan and we are working remotely with minimal staff in our offices to handle necessary work. We will continue our operations throughout the duration of this public health crisis, and we’re looking for ways to extend a helping hand to our clients and friends. We’ve assembled a team that’s ready to help you get answers to your questions and devise ways to prevent disputes and find solutions

 

As our communities weather the effects of the coronavirus, it is also important to take proactive steps to protect your business against litigation that may arise as a result of this pandemic.  The Association of Corporate Counsel has prepared an article that will lead you through seven steps for coronavirus preparedness. This short article is a great resource for businesses facing these uncertain times.  Please Click Here to access the article.

 

Steptoe & Johnson has nearly 300 seasoned transactional lawyers,  litigators, and labor and employment attorneys available to answer any specific questions that you may have.  Our attorneys will continue to be accessible via e-mail and phone throughout this crisis. All attorney contact information is available on our website at: www.steptoe-johnson.com.

 

How We Can Help:

Alcohol and Hospitality

The alcohol, food service, and hospitality industries have been deeply impacted by forced closures, travel bans, and canceled events as a result of COVID-19.  We are helping clients maneuver the unique challenges that face these businesses. From interpreting force majeure and other contract provisions to loss mitigation and we can help guide you through these uncertain and trying times.  Contact Stacy Kula for further details.

 

Construction Services

Steptoe & Johnson’s Construction Team is well-equipped to assist construction companies that are facing the myriad of issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our attorneys handle claims relating to project delays, increased material costs, increased labor costs, and labor shortages.  We also routinely draft and interpret contract language dealing with undue delay, force majeure, and other business interruption issues.  Finally, we often collaborate with our safety attorneys to assure OSHA and regulatory compliance, our employment attorneys to assist with workforce management, and our corporate attorneys to assist with company organizational issues.  Each of these skill sets will become increasingly important for construction operators dealing not only with the immediate fallout of the pandemic, but also with the ever-evolving reopening process in the wake of COVID-19.  For more information on our Construction Team, please contact Ben McFarland or Adam Ennis

 

Contractual Disputes / Business Interruption

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused business disruptions around the globe.  Now is the time to review all of your contracts, especially single-source, supply, and similar agreements that may include minimum volume purchase requirements and penalties for failure to meet those commitments. These contract provisions should be reviewed before a party takes action that could potentially give rise to a claim of breach of contract.  Attorneys in our Business Litigation team are here to help.  Our business attorneys have years of experience in collections and insolvency.  They advise in structuring transactions and represent clients in reorganization matters, including secured lenders, individual creditors, and debtors. 

 

Coverage Questions 

The firm’s Insurance Company Team can assist clients with the unprecedented regulatory and litigation issues facing insurance companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Questions are likely to arise under health, travel, life, disability, CGL, D&O, E&O, and workers’ compensation policies. There may be claims for negligent failure to guard against or warn of potential exposure to the virus; claims alleging workplace exposure to the virus when the evidence of the source of the exposure is uncertain, and claims that a company did not respond quickly or decisively enough to prevent exposure of its employees or customers to the virus.

 

One area of special concern to insurance companies will be business interruption claims.  Many commercial property insurance policies provide coverage for business income losses sustained when a "civil authority" prohibits or impairs access to the policyholder's premises. Depending upon its specific wording, a policy's "civil authority" coverage may or may not require that the access restriction result from "physical loss" by a covered cause of loss and, if so, often does not require that "physical loss" occur to the policyholder's own property. Accordingly, if a federal, state, or local governmental authority limits access to or from areas where active transmission of an infectious disease has been identified, "civil authority" coverage may respond with insurance for the attendant income losses of affected businesses. 

 

Other specialized insurance policies and extensions of coverage added to standard property insurance policies—including those sold to policyholders in the hospitality and health care industries—expressly provide insurance coverage for losses caused by "communicable or infectious diseases" without requiring physical damage to insured property.

 

We advise insurance companies to proactively review their business interruption language in anticipation of claims and litigation over those claims.  Let us know if our team can help your company navigate through these perilous and uncharted waters.

 

Cybersecurity

Remote work mandates have raised the specter of increased hacking and vulnerability to business networks. In fact, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reports multiple criminal groups have ramped up their activity since the coronavirus began to spread beyond the confines of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it first emerged, capitalizing on people’s genuine fears. Some of the more widespread threats seen to date have been bogus phishing emails with links claiming to have important updates on the virus which, if clicked, lead to devices being infected with malware and ransomware.  Additionally, as the need for a remote workforce grows, so will the specter of increased hacking and vulnerability to business networks.  Our Cybersecurity Team understands and complies with data privacy and cybersecurity laws and regulations, and it stands ready to assist businesses as they plan for and respond to any.  Following a breach, can re-evaluate existing cybersecurity.

 

Emergency Response Assistance

As companies continue to take necessary steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to be mindful of the possibility of other issues that may arise in the normal course of business that require immediate attention.  For example, injuries resulting from accidents, potential adverse environmental incidents, and regulatory or law enforcement agency inquiries.  For a company that may already be stretched in terms of resources, our Emergency Response Team is trained to assist businesses with large or small scale incidents and, on-site investigation/assistance.  Call with our team leader, Monté Williams, to help to develop a strategy to address the issue at hand.  We are here to help whenever or however you need.

 

Employment Issues

Employers know that COVID-19 is impacting every single aspect of the workplace.  Our experienced Labor and Employment lawyers are already helping clients navigate these rapidly changing circumstances and providing practical, real-time advice relating to workplace safety and health issues, wage and hour issues, leave and accommodation issues, traditional labor issues, benefits issues, reduction-in-force issues and other issues, surfacing during this crisis. Our team is closely monitoring the ever-changing landscape and continues to issue timely alerts and post helpful information for employers on its COVID-19 Employer Resources page

 

Energy Industry Impacts

The legal implications of COVID-19 may be particularly acute for the U.S. energy industry in light of other global energy disruptions.  With one of the largest energy practices in the country, led by attorneys with decades of experience in the energy industry, Steptoe & Johnson stands ready to assist in guiding our clients through the legal issues associated with COVID-19.  Focus areas include:

  • Energy transactions – navigating due diligence and other steps in property acquisitions and dispositions; considerations regarding covenant compliance, financing, termination clauses
  • Performance of energy contracts – force majeure, MAE, and related clauses; counter-party risk; supply chain issues
  • Land administration issues – payment interruptions; contract renewals
  • Insurance coverage – business interruption; lost revenue or income; loss of access to facilities
  • Employment issues – employee health and safety; employee communications; compensation and benefits
  • Litigation preparedness
  • Cybersecurity/privacy considerations

To learn how our team can assist, please contact Sharon O. Flanery, Chair, Energy and Natural Resources Department.

 

Environmental Compliance

The ongoing operations of facilities subject to environmental law and regulation in times of crisis, may find their routine compliance obligations difficult or impossible to meet, especially as state and federal regulatory agencies adopt “essential personnel only” procedures.  Certain state and federal laws provide for regulatory assistance during truly unique circumstances.  Our team of environmental lawyers, engineers, and a licensed remediation specialist are available to assist.  

 

Estate Planning and Advance Directives

Considering the rather scary forecasts of the potential impact of COVID-19, now is an appropriate time to make sure you and your loved ones have all the necessary estate planning and advance directive documents in place. While we understand this is a difficult topic, in light of the impact this virus is having on the elderly population, this discussion should be had. We have experienced attorneys who are ready and able to address these issues and can ensure everyone's objectives with respect to their wealth transfer goals are met and structured properly.

 

Health Care

Today, the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 to health care organizations and medical professionals is unprecedented. We’ve assembled a team that’s ready 24-7 to help you get answers to your questions and devise ways to prevent disputes and find solutions. The firm’s Health Care,  Long Term Care team and Professional Liability attorneys are actively helping clients sensibly and proactively navigate the unprecedented regulatory and litigation issues facing health care facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are prepared to assist our clients with emergency response, policy implementation and development, and risk management.  Our battle-tested attorneys have your back.  click here for information on COVID-19 preparedness for nursing homes

UPDATE: 

Today, the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 to health care organizations and medical professionals is unprecedented. We’ve assembled a team that’s ready 24-7 to help you get answers to your questions and devise ways to prevent disputes and find solutions. The firm’s Health Care,  Long Term Care team and Professional Liability attorneys are actively helping clients sensibly and proactively navigate the unprecedented regulatory and litigation issues facing health care facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are prepared to assist our clients with emergency response, policy implementation and development, and risk management.  Our battle-tested attorneys have your back.​ Click here for information on COVID-19 preparedness for nursing homes

 

Updates: 

On 5/18.30, CMS released Nursing Home Reopening Recommendation for State and Local Officials.  To view the recomendations, , Click Here

On 4/19/20, CMS releases Requirements for Notification of Confirmed COVID-19 (or COVID19 Persons under Investigation) Among Residents and Staff in Nursing Homes.  To view the guidance, Click Here

On 3/27/20 CMS released a toolkit explaining how long-term care residents can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.  To access the toolkit, please Click Here    

 

Higher Education

Student health, online education, and relocation of students housed on campus are only a few of the issues facing institutions of higher education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  From employment questions to facilities concerns, our Higher Education team is in the trenches counseling administrators and sharing best practices.

 

Tax and Economic Incentives

The federal government and several states are offering wide-sweeping economic incentives, grants, low interest rate loans, tax credits, and payment and filing extensions.  Companies of all sizes and individuals will likely suffer from the impact of COVID-19 and these benefits offer tangible assistance.  We are analyzing these ever-changing initiatives in real time and are ready to advise you on the impacts of these developments.  Contact Michael Barill to find out how we can help.

 

Workouts and Restructuring

Despite extensive planning and astute business acumen, no lender or business owner could have foreseen the negative effects of COVID-19 on market conditions and ultimately cash flow.  The impact has been swift, and things will likely get worse before they get better.  Our team stands ready to assist lenders and investors in minimizing losses and maximizing long-term financial stability in this volatile and unprecedented environment.