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Update: Mind the Gap: California Assembly Bill 2756 Amends Insurance Code to Bridge Gaps in Coverage

Recent legislative reforms are working to bridge perceived gaps in coverage – particularly for the peril of fire – following the past few years of catastrophic wildfires in California. One such measure is California Assembly Bill 2756, which requires an insurer to obtain a signed acknowledgement from an applicant or insured if the insurer issues a residential property insurance policy on or after July 1, 2021, that does not provide coverage for the peril of fire.

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Update: Expanded Protections in the California Insurance Code Amidst Wildfire Property Loss in California

Wildfire season in California is not yet over. This update on recent California legislative reforms provides practical information for insurers offering residential insurance in California, in light of the current severe drought, anticipated La Nina weather pattern this winter and what is proving to be another season of devastating wildfires. California Senate Bill 872 is a significant piece of consumer-friendly legislation that has been incorporated into the California Insurance Code. It has expanded protections for insureds following loss of a primary residence caused by catastrophic events as follows.

Virtual Building Inspections: Timesaver or Liability Trap?

COVID-19 opened the door to virtual building inspections in Florida. The pandemic caused a backlog of requests for inspections and Legislators hope to streamline the inspection process to help building officials catch up. In a new bill that took effect on July 1st of this year, SB 1382 requires building authorities to allow requests for inspections be submitted electronically and allows building authorities to perform most building inspections remotely. While each jurisdiction may still differ slightly, this new option allows building department officials to make headway through the backup. Although growing pains can be expected as building authorities and stakeholders adapt to the new systems, electronic inspection requests and virtual inspections will help promote a faster and more efficient process of obtaining inspections and building permits.

Texas Employer Conundrum: Conflicting State and Federal Rules on Vaccine Mandates

On October 11, 2021, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued an Executive Order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all entities in the state, including private businesses, for both employees as well as patrons, subject to a fine up to $1,000. Abbott's Order is an extension of his prior order banning mask mandates in schools and was issued in response to President Biden's Executive Order mandating vaccinations for certain businesses.

California: Court Has Inherent Authority to Strike PAGA Claims as Unmanageable

In a case of first impression, a California appellate court held trial courts possess the inherent authority to dismiss Private Attorney General's Act (PAGA) of 2004 (Lab. Code §2698 et. seq.) ("PAGA") claims as unmanageable. This decision reinforces and breathes new life into a profound employer defense in PAGA litigation. PAGA claims have long been a point of contention among businesses who find themselves at odds with employees asserting large-scale, sweeping PAGA claims. Years ago, the California Supreme Court held PAGA actions were not subject to the due process limitations of class certification. At the core of the issue is the ability of employers to fairly present defenses to potentially sweeping employee litigation that, in pertinent respects here, looks and feels like a class action. With this case, employers now have a determinative ruling in their favor that requires the employee to provide a reasonable trial management plan, or risk their PAGA claim being dismissed by the court.

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