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COVID-19 Task Force

As the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19 continue to evolve, MVP Law wants to remind you that we are here to help with a variety of legal issues that may arise. The majority of MVP attorneys focus on defending workers’ compensation matters, representing employers in employment law matters and handling various general liability cases; but, did you know we also have a group of attorneys who specialize in business litigation and transactions? With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all aspects of our lives from personal to professional, we are here to assist in navigating the daily changes. Continue reading to find out what our practice groups are doing to best prepare clients during this pandemic.

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Business Litigation & Transactions
Employment Law
Civil Litigation & Insurance Defense
Workers’ Compensation

Business Litigation & Transactions

MVP has a substantial and broad-based creditors’ rights practice to assist clients whose customers are unable to perform their commitments. MVP attorneys assist lenders and other creditors whose customers seek relief in the bankruptcy courts.  MVP’s attorneys navigate the bankruptcy process for clients to maximize and expedite recoveries. 

MVP can assist clients in evaluating their contracts to advise in the determination of how to proceed–whether performance might be excused or frustrated.  Also, MVP can advise clients about their rights relative to evictions, foreclosures and loan workouts or forbearance agreements associated with COVID-19. 

Outside of bankruptcy, our attorneys assist clients in the collection of delinquent loans and recovering and disposing of collateral. We file lawsuits to obtain monetary judgments against borrowers, guarantors and other debtors and pursue post-judgment relief such as garnishments and executions on property in order to satisfy those judgments.  We also handle judicial and non-judicial foreclosures, mechanics’ liens, and replevin actions for the benefit of our creditor clients.  MVP attorneys represent lessors under equipment and real estate leases to protect their interests when lessees default.  Our attorneys assist lenders with work-out matters, which are increasingly prevalent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MVP represents secured and unsecured creditors in the federal bankruptcy courts and develops strategies to maximize returns for clients in routine, as well as complex bankruptcy cases.  Our attorneys protect clients’ rights through actions including:

* Obtaining relief from the automatic stay and adequate protection orders          
* Objecting to and negotiating as to confirmation of bankruptcy plans
* Structuring cash collateral orders
* Defending preference actions and adversary proceedings
* Representing unsecured creditors’ committees
* Filing proofs of claim
* Handling lease assumption matters

MVP attorneys draw on their extensive experience with these and related areas to provide complete representation to clients in all aspects of these matters.

MVP attorneys have guided clients through the process of the Paycheck Protection Program.  In addition to assisting with working through the application process, we can assist in the process of pursuing loan forgiveness.    

Please contact Lawrence Greenbaum or your regular MVP attorney with any questions regarding business litigation and transactions.

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Employment Law

If there was ever a time for fast paced changes, differing state guidance vs. federal guidance vs. local guidance, and all around confusion on what employers can and cannot require of their employees – that time would be now. MVP is working tirelessly to keep up with the evolving regulations regarding practices such as bringing employees back to the office, employee temperature checks, reporting illnesses to OSHA, providing safe work environments, evaluating the FFCRA and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and more as the health environment changes what dictates best practices by the day.

Our experienced team of employment attorneys have vast experience in matters regarding public and private sector employers, school districts, municipalities, and employment practices liability.

If you are not sure which of these new regulations apply to your business, or need help maintaining or adapting your current employment policies, please contact Greg Goheen or your regular MVP attorney with any questions.

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Civil Litigation & Insurance Defense

Within the COVID-19 environment, our general liability attorneys have been focused on new trends emerging in the retail & hospitality industry and in healthcare facilities. Is it safe for employees to be back in the office if they have to have contact with the general public and are not deemed essential businesses? What kind of liability does a business have if they are open to the public because they are an essential business? We have outlined a few examples of claims that may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic and offer a few general suggestions that businesses should take to reduce their potential for liability claims.

Retail & Hospitality Industry
  • Third-party negligence claims, including premises liability claims brought by invitees arising out of the manner in which the business handled the COVID-19 Virus:
    • Examples:
      • Failure to maintain premises and/or properly clean the premises to prevent the presence of the virus at the premises;
      • Improper decontamination of the premises;
      • Failing to take requisite precautions such as notifying guests when the business knows or should know that an employee is infected with COVID-19 ;
      • Failure to isolate infected employees and subsequently allowing the virus to spread;
      • Disclosing private information, resulting in physical injury, emotional distress, and/or the loss of property or personal injury;
      • Failure to follow relevant health guidelines (e.g. enforcing social distancing, quarantining ill employees, and sanitation, limitations on the number of people in the establishments, face masks);
      • Failure to follow Federal, state, and or local guidelines;
      • Failure to warn;
      • Failing to take precautions to prevent an outbreak; and
      • Liquor liability if customers are permitted to take alcoholic beverages to-go.
  • Negligence claims from employees
    • Failure to provide a clean workspace
    • Failure to provide PPE
    • Disallowing employees to wear PPE
    • Requiring employees to return to work
    • Wrongful termination
    • Wrongfully quarantining an employee or tenant;
    • Disclosing private information, resulting in physical injury, emotional distress, and/or the loss of property or personal injury
Healthcare Facilities
  • Subject to potential bodily injury claims, including but not limited to the following:
    • Improper decontamination of the premises;
    • Improper disposal of medical or sanitation waste;
    • Failure to isolate infected employees and subsequently allowing the virus to spread; and
    • Failure to follow the relevant health guidelines.
Potential Defenses to general liability claims:
  • Plaintiffs may have difficulty establishing causation as to where and how they contracted COVID-19. It’s difficult to track person-to person transmission of COVID-19 unlike some other viruses. 
Considerations businesses should take:
  • Revisit or create workplace health safety procedures and protocols;
  • Post warnings at entrances identifying the preventative measures the business is taking; the customer’s responsibility for following any rules the business has put in place; that the preventative measures being taken do not guarantee that a patron will not contract the virus while on the premises; and that customers enter at their own risk;
  • Consider adopting policies that comply with the most restrictive guidelines, even if not specifically applicable to your industry/business (e.g. require all patrons and employees to wear a mask or face covering);
  • Where guidelines are silent on certain safety procedures, consider adopting some of the safety measures taken or prescribed to other industries; and
  • Stay up to date on the changing nature of COVID-19 and best-practices related to preventing the virus, as well as government guidelines pertaining to your industry.

Questions about general liability issues? Reach out to Byron Bowles or your regular MVP attorney for assistance.

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Workers’ Compensation

The spread of COVID–19 throughout recent months has impacted the defense of workers’ compensation claims across several states where MVP Law represents clients. Although there are still many uncertainties regarding the development of the law affecting COVID-19 workers’ compensation cases, MVP Law is dedicated to staying on top of the changes. Specifically, issues such as rebuttable presumptions, causation, disability benefits, and exposure while working remotely will all need to be addressed for pertinent defense on workers’ compensation claims.

Rebuttable Presumption

As the pandemic continues, states across the country have enacted legislation creating a rebuttable presumption that workers’ exposure to COVID-19 is attributed to work activities. Illinois has signed HB 2455 into effect. HB 2455 provides a rebuttable presumption for workers who have contracted COVID-19 that the virus was contracted while working. This order is in effect for all cases between March 9, 2020 and December 31, 2020. HB 2455 covers all workers who are deemed first responders or part of an essential business.

Missouri similarly has enacted CSR 50-5.005, which enacts a rebuttable presumption for first responders effective between April 22, 2020 and February 21, 2021. At this time, Kansas has not enacted any specific legislation creating a presumption for COVID-19 workers’ compensation cases.

More about this additional legislation can be found HERE

Investigating Whether a COVID-19 Diagnosis is Work-related

The contagiousness of COVID-19 brings with it new difficulties for investigating whether a worker’s COVID-19 diagnosis is causally related to work activities. In general, regular diseases in which the public are exposed to are not covered under the occupational disease category of workers’ compensation benefits. Similar to the flu or common cold, COVID-19 can be contracted in a multitude of ways and places. Investigating whether COVID-19 was contracted through work activities will be challenging due to the burdensome task of contact tracing which individuals the worker came into proximity with who may have exposed the worker to the disease. For a thorough analysis of occupational disease claims and the burden of proof required to establish compensability please see this article.

Remote Workers

While the country continues to practice social distancing, many workers have been performing their jobs remotely. While employers typically design their workspaces with employee safety in mind, this benefit is not afforded while workers begin performing their jobs remotely. Employers no longer have control over the workspace. A simple accident such as tripping on a loose rug in the living room could now find its way into the workers’ compensation system. MVP Law has addressed the important issues for defending remote injuries on a state by state basis HERE.

Missed Time Benefits

Benefits for time missed from work due to injuries is a major issue in workers’ compensation cases. COVID-19 has complicated this facet of defense further. If an injured employee refuses to return to work due to potential exposure to COVID-19 or refuses to comply with new restrictions such as masking requirements, what impact will this have on these benefits? These will be fact specific cases so please reach out to an MVP attorney with questions.

Changes in Court Settings

As is the case with many industries, the legal community has experienced a variety of changes with court appearances. While in person meetings with judges and opposing counsel used to be the norm, courts have changed how they handle workers’ compensations dockets in each state. For guidelines relating to each state’s new procedure for workers’ compensation dockets please see this article

Please reach out to Steve McManus or your regular MVP attorney with questions about workers’ compensation and COVID-19

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Disclaimer and warning: This information was published by McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A., and is to be used only for general informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. This is not inclusive of all exceptions and requirements which may apply to any individual claim. It is imperative to promptly obtain legal advice to determine the rights, obligations and options of a specific situation.