Coronavirus Resource Page
As the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold, many of our clients are asking what it means for their business, for example:
- Will my insurance provide coverage?
- Will I be exposed to claims brought by customers?
- Do I have any potential liability or obligations to my employees?
- Am I able to avoid performance under existing contracts?
We are advising our clients to take steps now to best position themselves as this crisis develops:
- Insurance Coverage Issues. Insurers have already signaled that they intend to deny coverage for claims arising from the coronavirus outbreak. Depending on your policy language, though, there may be coverage for business interruption, communicable disease, supply chain risk, civil authority orders, employment claims, and liability claims from customers. We are advising our clients to carefully review their policies with counsel or their broker to identify prospective coverages, to provide timely notice of claims where appropriate, and to properly document damages and losses arising from the outbreak.
- Employment Issues. There are a myriad of unique employment issues in the wake of COVID-19. What are the legal risks associated with taking employees’ temperatures in order to determine whether they have a fever? Can I require an employee exhibiting flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms to go home or stay? What can I say to employees if a co-worker has been diagnosed with coronavirus? We are advising clients to proactively consider these issues and have their HR professionals work collaboratively with counsel, where necessary, to address these concerns.
- Contract Issues. If your company has been impacted by the virus, we are advising our clients to read through contracts to determine whether they include force majeure provisions and, if so, whether the language was drafted in a manner sufficient to include the coronavirus as a triggering event. Contract provisions vary and may include specific steps necessary to invoke the protections provided, including the time period in which the event continues and requirements for providing notice to the other contracting party. Failing to do so can materially impact your ability to invoke the clause. If permitted to do so, companies can exercise their business judgment in deciding whether to exercise the right to terminate.
- Real Estate Transactions. As with most industries, COVID-19 is impacting real estate transactions in a variety of ways. Issues relating to enforcing rights, obligations and remedies under real estate contracts, conducting due diligence, obtaining financing, and actually closing transactions, are now subject to a whole new set of issues. Specifically, most County offices are closing access to the public which affects the ability to record documents and finance transactions in a timely manner. Title insurance also is impacted as title insurers struggle with gaps that may arise due to delays in performing title searches or recording documents. More issues are sure to arise as new rules and restrictions are imposed by government agencies to address COVID-19.
- Construction Contracting. Though Ohio’s Stay at Home Order characterizes construction work as essential, construction project participants have had to address the possibility of restrictions brought about by a change in that characterization or the impact of a shortage of labor. And, they’ve had to consider this issue while also ensuring workplace safety in the home office and the field. Our group has been advising clients on, among other things, the review and inclusion of force majeure terminology in contracts, on proper documentation confirming the essential nature of the work, and on the impacts from evolving legislative initiatives.
- Tax Issues. There are many tax changes that have come about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury Department and the IRS announced special Federal income tax return filing and payment relief. The CARE Act was passed to address the economic impact and includes flexibility for individual and corporate taxpayers, offering delayed employer payroll taxes and estimated tax payments for corporations, relief provisions related to losses, charitable deductions and business interest, and forgivable bridge loans to small businesses or a credit against employment taxes for those who do not take the SBA loan. Here is a link to the Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act which includes information on the programs and initiatives available from the SBA and tax provisions outside the scope of SBA. We are tracking these issues closely and are here to help answer any tax questions related to your specific business.
- Issues Affecting Healthcare Providers. Our healthcare provider clients are faced with ever changing policies affecting the ways in which they do business. Providers are being forced to address constantly changing guidance including additional measures that have been put in place to conserve personal protective equipment such as the limitation of elective surgeries. In the wake of this crisis other agencies have been loosening restrictions in an effort to facilitate the safe continuity of care. CMS has provided several waivers with regard to telehealth services to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to use them and providers to provide them. Further, as we attempt to navigate through this crisis, HHS has issued emergency waivers with respect to EMTALA and HIPAA in limited circumstances relating to treatment of COVID-19 patients. Changes are coming rapidly, and we are here to help you navigate these changes. Here are is a link to some additional resources.
During this time, we have taken steps to ensure that our clients receive the same level of service and responsiveness that they have come to expect from Brouse McDowell. For assistance, please contact any member of our team, or:
- For Insurance Coverage for Coronavirus Losses or Liability: Amanda Leffler at 330.434.7417, Jodi Spencer Johnson at 216.830.6809 or Andrew W. Miller at 419.931.6910
- For Providing a Safe Workplace and Labor Laws: Christopher J. Carney at 216.830.6825
- For Contract Issues and Force Majeure Provisions: Elizabeth G. Yeargin at 330.434.4824 or Daniel L. Silfani at 330.434.4712
- For Real Estate Transactions: Thomas A. Gattozzi at 216.830.6831
- For Constrcution Contracting Issues: James T. Dixon at 216.830.6804
- For Issues, Policies and Procedures Affecting our Healthcare Provider Clients: Christopher M. Huryn at 330.434.4610, Ryan Williams at 216.830.6814 or Heather Lee Allred at 419.931.6801
- For Tax Issues: Terry W. Vincent at 216.830.6847
- For Other Questions or Concerns: Managing Partner Daniel K. Glessner at 330.434.7240 or your primary Brouse contact
- To opt in to Brouse’s updates on COVID 19, please email our Alerts Team
Of course, the health and well-being of our employees, clients and families is of the utmost importance as we navigate this unprecedented situation. The goal of providing uninterrupted legal services to our clients in the event of business disruption is also top of mind. Brouse remains operational and ready to serve our loyal client base. We are working with our attorneys and professional staff to ensure that remote access needs are met and that your regular points of contact are reachable by your normal means of communication.
We understand that not all needs are easily met by telework, and thus essential personnel will remain on-site at this time. We are taking additional safety precautions at all our office locations, following guidance from the CDC, WHO, and local health departments.
We appreciate the trust and confidence you place in us to handle your most important legal matters. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates to our clients in the event that anything changes.