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Categories: “COVID-19”

  • Additional Rights for Employees of Offshore Seafood Processing Facilities Who Test Positive for COVID-19
  • September 2nd, 2020 — by Daniel Stein — Category: COVID-19 OSHA Torts

  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 at food processing facilities have led employees to file suit against large companies like Tyson and Smithfield for state law claims of public nuisance and breach of duty to provide a safe workplace. Of the 3.4 million food processing employees, about 250,000 work in seafood processing, though most of those workers are employed on land-based facilities. Workers at seafood processing facilities that operate offshore on vessels, however, may be entitled to additional remedies after getting sick if they qualify as Jones Act seamen.


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  • Mandates Remain in Effect for Charter Fishing Services and Vessels
  • August 27th, 2020 — by Gabi Jackson — Category: COVID-19

  • The charter fishing industry faced significant hardship at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus. An unprecedented wave of cancellations followed the issuance of public health orders that restricted travel or required the closure of non-essential businesses. As public health restrictions are lifted, states are implementing new guidelines that govern the operation of for-hire fleets and charter boats. While these laws are put in place for the safety of the charter operators and clients, the social distancing and maximum occupancy guidelines may keep some from resuming business.


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  • Consolidated MDL for COVID-19 Lawsuits?
  • August 20th, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 Insurance PPP Torts

  • COVID-19 has sparked significant litigation across the country and presents new challenges for courts to decide. While lawmakers are attempting to limit COVID-19-related litigation by passing liability shield laws and introducing penalties for making a practice out of COVID-19 litigation for attorneys, more and more COVID-19-related lawsuits are being filed. One tool available to courts to reduce this caseload is consolidation under 28 U.S.C. § 1407, which authorizes the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) to centralize cases with one or more common questions of fact. Multidistrict litigation was created to help courts navigate the work-related asbestos cases of the 1990s. The federal MDL panel has received petitions to consider MDL for lawsuits related to COVID-19 business interruption insurance and against banks regarding their handling of COVID-19 SBA loans and repayment of agents.


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  • USDA Announces Aquaculture Commodities Eligible for COVID Aid Program
  • August 17th, 2020 — by Zachary Klein — Category: Aquaculture COVID-19 Seafood

  • On August 11, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a long-awaited announcement that certain aquaculture producers are eligible for financial assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Although the program was originally launched by the USDA in April to provide assistance to agricultural producers impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19, the agency’s decision to include aquaculture came after a public comment period in June that gave producers and industry the opportunity to submit data demonstrating that various aquaculture commodities meet the criteria for CFAP eligibility.


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  • Fraud Prosecutions for Paycheck Protection Program
  • August 14th, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19 PPP

  • Federal prosecutors have already filed charges against at least 33 small businesses or individual owners for alleged Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan fraud, such as fabricating applications, falsifying tax or business records, and misusing loan money.


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  • Businesses Reopening During COVID Have Another Concern: Legionnaires’ Disease
  • August 12th, 2020 — by Gabi Jackson — Category: COVID-19 Torts

  • Recently, an employee at a high school in Kettering, OH tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease in June after the school closed down due to COVID-19. Four water pipes, located in bathrooms and sinks, held Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease is a concern for schools, businesses, and other entities reopening after coronavirus-related closures. After 21-30 days of disuse, water in pipes becomes stagnant and the chlorinated water, which acts as a disinfectant, is no longer present. Bacteria called Legionella can form in the water system leading to lung infection.


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  • Border Restrictions Extended
  • August 10th, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19

  • As coronavirus cases continue to increase, many countries have closed their borders to non-essential travelers by imposing travel restrictions. On July 22, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published notice that previously announced agreements among the United States, Canada, and Mexico to keep their borders closed to nonessential land and ferry crossings will extend through August 20, 2020. The travel restrictions were originally announced mid-March and were extended in April, May, June, and most recently in July. Anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of that country must prove one of the following: (1) they are traveling for an essential purpose; (2) they are only transiting; or (3) they are an immediate family member of a citizen or a permanent resident. Americans who are returning to the United States are exempt from the border closures.


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  • Potential Workplace Spread of COVID-19: Could OSHA Be Liable?
  • August 3rd, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA Torts

  • One of the greatest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been balancing the need for essential infrastructure workers to continue working with workplace health and safety concerns. Employers have a general duty to keep the workplace free from recognized hazards and comply with the regulations promulgated by OSHA. OSHA and the CDC have issued joint guidance for returning to work safely and sector-specific guidelines for those workers particularly at risk. Despite calls for OSHA to take regulatory action to protect workers from COVID-19, the agency has relied on voluntary guidelines. Over 6,000 COVID-19-related OSHA complaints have been filed, but OSHA has issued few citations to employers. Now, workers are taking action into their own hands.


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  • When Workers Are Required to Quarantine before Returning to Work, Who Pays?
  • July 23rd, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA Torts

  • Workplace health and safety is a top priority to both employers and employees as they go back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers are at risk of litigation if they do not comply with the recommendations and guidelines issued by the CDC, OSHA, and state and local officials. Employers are also at risk if they do comply with these COVID-19 mandates and guidance. Some employers are mandating that workers quarantine before returning to work. Workers forfeit their personal time and mobility when they submit to mandatory quarantining. Does quarantining qualify as so essential to the job function that the workers deserve pay for the time, or is it part of weighing the costs and benefits of wanting to return to earning a paycheck? The financial determination of whether or not to pay workers for time in quarantine is not clear.


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  • Dare County Settles Lawsuit With Non-Resident Property Owners
  • July 22nd, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19

  • In the beginning of March, many state and local governments passed various executive orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their communities. Dare County, North Carolina, a beach community in the Outer Banks, issued a State of Emergency declaration on March 16th that included a travel restriction. According to the declaration, non-resident property owners and visitors were prohibited from entering the county. Only residents living in the counties of Dare, Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell were permitted to enter Dare County. To enforce this travel restriction, county officials set up checkpoints and required proof of residency to gain entry into the county. Non-residents were turned away and not allowed to enter.


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  • Does A Better Loan Program Already Exist For Small Businesses?
  • July 21st, 2020 — by Ashley Pruitt — Category: COVID-19 PPP

  • According to the Small Business Administration, there were nearly 30 million small businesses supporting more than 56 million jobs in the United States before the current public health crises. But since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US, it is estimated that more than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed. The government created grants and loans in the CARES Act specifically targeted for the small-business community, yet those programs suffered a rocky start and are subject to significant usage restrictions. For small businesses that need access to money that can be used more generally, fear the forgiveness stipulations, or are not comfortable with the short repayment timeline, the SBA has retained its 7(a) Loan Programs. 7(a) loans may be exactly what some small-business owners need to weather the COVID disruptions.


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  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
  • July 14th, 2020 — by Thomas Finley — Category: COVID-19

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of closed businesses, trillions of dollars of damage to the economy, and millions of job losses. The government has determined it has a responsibility to help support businesses during this time, and one of the federal government’s most relevant tools is funding programs provided through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are loans that the SBA distributes to help small businesses whenever a disaster is declared by the federal government. The loans ensure that a business has access to working capital and can pay for any business expense that it may encounter while it is recovering from the disaster.


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  • Assumption of Risk Defenses for COVID-19 Exposure Claims
  • July 10th, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19 Torts

  • Anyone who has ever gone sky diving or bungee jumping has signed a form acknowledging that they are aware of the inherent risks of the sport. Even though no forms are signed, sport fans attending baseball and hockey games are accepting the risk that they might be struck by a baseball or hockey puck. Assumption of the risk is a major legal challenge that often faces individuals seeking damages for injuries sustained while engaged in risky activities.


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  • Eviction Freezes During COVID-19
  • July 7th, 2020 — by Ashley Pruitt — Category: COVID-19

  • State, local, and federal government entities across the nation have taken significant steps to relieve the all-encompassing stress our country is feeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, including halting evictions. However, a landlord group in Los Angeles recently filed a lawsuit that claims the City of Los Angeles’ moratorium on evictions and rent increases violates their constitutional rights.


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  • PPE: The New Norm
  • July 6th, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • PPE has become a household term during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your family is like mine, you might even have a PPE station by your backdoor to make sure you are prepared whenever you go out. We are all taking precautions to ward off the virus and help slow the spread. Even though PPE is new to most of our vocabulary, personal protective equipment—PPE’s proper name—is not a new concept when it comes to workplace safety. OSHA has enforced workplace safety standards requiring PPE as a mechanism to mitigate worker exposure to workplace hazards that can not be eliminated entirely. As America goes back to work, many employers who never before had to consider a need for PPE must do so to combat the risk of COVID-19.


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  • COVID-19 Liability Waivers: What You Need to Know
  • June 30th, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19 Torts

  • As states begin to reopen, businesses are increasingly taking steps to guard against future liability for coronavirus exposure claims, such as by requiring customers to sign COVID-19 liability waivers and taking customer’s temperatures before entering the business.


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  • Public Nuisance Lawsuits Against Employers Over COVID-19: What You Need to Know
  • June 29th, 2020 — by Gabi Jackson — Category: COVID-19 Torts

  • As businesses re-open in the midst of COVID-19, workers exposed to coronavirus may attempt to hold employers liable for their sickness. In fact, employees of McDonald’s, Amazon, and Smithfield Foods have already filed suits against these companies under a common law cause of action for public nuisance. Although public nuisance is a common lawsuit in the realm of environmental litigation, its use in the employment context is rare since federal, state, and regulatory bodies typically have purview over workers’ claims. As employees bring these claims, it is unclear whether courts will allow the claims or plaintiffs must seek recourse another way.


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  • Civil Authority Coverage & COVID-19 Income Losses
  • June 26th, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19 Insurance

  • Since March, hundreds of businesses have filed lawsuits against insurance companies for denied lost revenue claims following COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. Businesses that have been forced to shut down and shelter-in-place in response to government orders may be able to recover lost earnings through civil authority insurance coverage. Civil authority insurance is a common extension of coverage in business interruption insurance policies. Civil authority insurance provides coverage for income losses resulting from mandatory government orders that impaired or prohibited access to an insured’s business.


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  • Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Provide the Fishing Industry with Additional COVID-19 Disaster Relief
  • June 25th, 2020 — by Gabi Jackson — Category: COVID-19 Fisheries

  • On June 11th, Representative Jared Golden of Maine and Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana proposed bipartisan legislation that would provide fishermen with additional funds from the COVID-19 disaster relief efforts. The proposal seeks to amend the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the principle law governing marine fisheries in the United States.


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  • Workplace Safety and COVID-19 on Vessels: Who’s in Charge?
  • June 23rd, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • In early June, 94 of 126 crew members aboard the F/V American Dynasty tested positive for COVID-19. Despite precautions taken to avoid such an outbreak, the fishing industry and others who make their living working on boats are facing serious challenges responding to COVID-19. It’s hard to imagine crew members being able to consistently stay six feet apart while hauling in nets, for example.


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  • Business Interruption Insurance & COVID-19 Losses
  • June 22nd, 2020 — by Betsy Montague — Category: COVID-19 Insurance

  • All types of businesses across the nation have incurred substantial losses in earnings due to COVID-19 shutdowns and are struggling to make it through these difficult times. Businesses that were unable to operate during the pandemic either from voluntary or mandatory shutdowns should consult their insurance policies to determine whether they have business interruption coverage. Business interruption insurance generally covers lost earnings incurred from an interruption of normal business operations caused by damage to the insured property. The purpose of the insurance policy is to put the policyholder back in the position it would have been had the interruption not occurred.


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  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act of 2020
  • June 18th, 2020 — by Thomas Finley — Category: COVID-19 PPP

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was passed as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in response to the needs of businesses experiencing loss of revenues due to government forced shutdowns.


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  • Workplace Safety Standards Amidst COVID-19
  • June 17th, 2020 — by Caroline Heavey — Category: COVID-19 OSHA

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued standards and guidelines for employers to address workplace safety and health concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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  • NSGLC Provides COVID-19 Resources
  • April 16th, 2020 — by Catherine Janasie — Category: COVID-19 Miscellaneous

  • COVID-19 has affected all of our lives in a multitude of ways. It can be difficult to navigate Congress’ efforts to ease the impact on Americans, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (or “CARES”) Act. As a result, the National Sea Grant Law Center (NSGLC) has received numerous questions from both the National Marine Fisheries Service and Sea Grant programs throughout the country on what relief is available to fishermen, aquaculture farms, and the larger seafood industry.


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