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Covid-19: Assessing the Legal Risk of Infectious Diseases

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – better known as the coronavirus – has turned our world upside down in a matter of weeks. The infectious disease caused by this newly emerged virus, Covid-19, has taken thousands of lives and sickened hundreds of thousands. The resulting public health crisis threatens to become an economic catastrophe, as governments weigh the need for populations to shelter in place against the financial cost of shutting down most businesses. The risk of lawsuits due to exposure to this infectious disease may add to the economic difficulties businesses are now facing. This article assesses that risk based on principles developed in past infectious disease litigation and the known characteristics of the coronavirus.

Builder’s Risk: Navigating the Creative Coverage Argument

Builders risk insurance policies are viewed as essential protection for construction projects, but they are complex and misunderstood, which can be further complicated by today’s changing litigation landscape. When construction commences, as either ground-up new or renovation of an existing structure, most risk management and insurance professionals presume that the project requires a builder’s risk policy to protect their exposure. Is this assumption correct? This is just one of many questions explored by WSHB partner Alicia Kennon as she takes part in this year’s CLM Construction Conference where she will lead a panel titled “Builder's Risk: Navigating the Creative Coverage Argument.” Joining Alicia on the panel will be fellow industry experts Bert Dizon (Gallagher Bassett), George Gagaris (Envista), and Andrew Norris (Chubb). This not-to-be-missed presentation will take place virtually on October 1, 2020 at 11 a.m. eastern standard time.

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Ethical Complications with Pre-Litigation Investigation of Construction Claims

Investigation of construction claims continues to evolve at a lightning fast pace. Ensuring all parties understand the process and recognize ethical rules during the investigation process is critical. Working towards a common goal between the client, insureds, claims professional, attorney, and experts is part of resolving claims at an early stage. What happens when the investigation reveals something that is unfavorable to another party? How do attorneys, clients, and claims professionals draw the line on investigating the evidence while not overstepping boundaries of revealing potentially protected opinions or pieces of evidence? Understanding what can and cannot be done versus what should and should not be done can help capture information in real time to better assist with the investigation of claims process as issues arise and reduce risk for everyone.

A Perfect Marriage: Resiliency and Insurability

Bigger, stronger, and more devastating – these three words are often used synonymously to describe the catastrophes of recent memory. Whether the result of a wildfire, tornado, flood, or hurricane, these catastrophes are not a new phenomenon, but rather are getting more intense and more frequent. The design and construction industries are taking notice, as is the insurance world. Adapting to the new normal of weather events and climate change has defined the need for resilient and sustainable construction of tomorrow. Is there negligence with design and construction professionals ignoring warning signs and building to the same standards; or is there a duty to prospective owners in preparing for what is expected and/or anticipated?

California DOI Urges Carriers to Expedite Claims Handling and Cover Reimbursement Costs for Wildfire Survivors

The California Insurance Commissioner has now issued emergency notices to all admitted and non-admitted property and casualty insurance companies doing business in California to assist survivors, displaced residents, and businesses impacted by the current and recent wildfires throughout the state. The emergency order was issued in connection with Governor Gavin Newsom’s August 18, 2020 emergency declaration that was issued due to the wildfires. Lara stated that “[w]ildfire survivors need immediate help as they start on the long road to recovery” and “urge[d] insurance companies to do the right thing for these survivors and help them through this difficult process.” Specifically, Lara implored all property and casualty carriers to implement expedited claims handling procedures and billing grace periods to aid the quick recovery of residents and businesses during the emergency.

Federal Court Guardrails Covid-19 Paid Leave: Paid Leave Expanded For New York Workers Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On August 3, 2020, the Southern District of New York (Judge J. Paul Oekten) broadened the scope of paid sick leave for employees seeking relief under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Court expanded employee benefits by vacating several features of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding administration of the FFCRA. The expanded benefits come at an opportune time with a second wave of crisis looming and families facing massive uncertainty with schools reopening. The DOL will likely appeal this ruling to the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit may reinstate the vacated features from the Final Rule pending review, but until then, the significance of this ruling cannot be ignored by New York employers, which may be risking non-compliance, liabilities and penalties. Further, employers should anticipate and prepare for more employees to request paid leave pursuant to the expanded benefits under this decision.

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