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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.

WSHB Expands in California: New Sonoma County Location

National law firm WSHB is proud to announce the opening of their newest location in Sonoma County, California. Situated in the heart of Northern California’s wine country, the firm’s Sonoma County office provides the firm’s full array of nationwide legal services in both litigated and non-litigated practice areas. Partner Steven J. Disharoon will be at the helm of this new location. A ten year veteran of the firm, Disharoon relocated from the firm’s Northern California office in Concord to serve as managing partner in Sonoma County. A vastly experienced trial and appellate attorney, Disharoon specializes in complex civil litigation, intellectual property, and transportation, as well as environmental claims and natural disasters. Outside the courtroom, he is an equally skilled negotiator of complex and contentious cases, who also provides his services for transactional and other non-litigated matters.

  • Full service national law firm founded in 1997 with over 300 attorneys in 27 offices in 15 states across the U.S.
  • Tried over 1,000 cases to verdict; internationally recognized for exceptionally high rate of success
  • Ranked #3 on The American Lawyer’s 2020 Diversity Scorecard
  • Recognized as one of the top two law firms in the nation for inclusiveness of women lawyers in the National Law Journal’s 2017 Women’s Scorecard
  • Top 10 ranking on Law360’s 2016 list of “The 100 Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys"  
  • Named "Go-To Law Firm" in ALM's annual edition of In-House Law Departments at the Top 500 Companies
  • Top 20 ranking on Law360's 2016 list of "The Best Law Firms for Minority Attorneys"
  • Top 200 ranking on Law360's 400 2019 list of largest U.S. Law Firms

WSHB Third Most Diverse Law Firm in the Nation

WSHB is proud to announce our top three national ranking on The American Lawyer’s 2020 Diversity Scorecard. American Lawyer’s Diversity Scorecard records the average number of full-time-equivalent minority attorneys at Am Law 200 and National Law Journal 250 law firms in the calendar year 2019. WSHB jumped 23 places from their ranking in the previous year, landing on their current spot at no. 3 on this year’s list.

Partner Kimberly Jones Appointed Chair-Elect of the Florida Bar’s Appellate Practice Section

WSHB partner Kimberly Jones was recently elected to the position of Chair-Elect of the Florida Bar's Appellate Practice Section. This 1,500-person organization is devoted to promoting excellence in Florida's state and federal appellate courts. Its members include lawyers from a wide spectrum of appellate practice areas and judicial representatives from each of Florida's appellate courts. The Section produces several publications on appellate issues, teaches many legal education seminars, and is at the forefront of providing pro bono appellate services to Florida litigants.

Failing To Preserve Evidence; Exception Carved Out By Pennsylvania Superior Court

In a landmark decision, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on the critical issue of failing to preserve evidence and created an important carve out to the prior case law on this important evidentiary issue. This closely watched decision has been the subject of much discussion. “In many instances, a business’ failure to maintain or preserve evidence can be fatal to the defense of a hotly contested action,” said WSHB Partner Andrew Kessler, who handled the appeal on behalf of the prevailing party. Kessler, managing partner of the WSHB Pennsylvania office believes that, “This case gives rise to development of a strong defense in those instances where evidence is inadvertently destroyed and removes the presumption that the party who destroyed the evidence did so because it was unfavorable to them. Avoiding the thought is a juror’s head that “they got rid of the evidence” can be vital in these types of cases where these issues arise. Avoiding the presumption helps to keep the playing field level.”

On The Basis of Sex: Supreme Court Holds that Employers Cannot Discriminate Against Employees for Being Homosexual or Transgender

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court (split 6-3) resolving a split of authority among Circuit Courts by holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Court concluded, "an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."

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