The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of our lives and created an ever-growing array of risks and uncertainties for individuals and businesses. Nason Yeager is here to help you face the challenges posed by COVID-19 and navigate the complex and fluid legal environment which has developed and will continue to evolve during these difficult times. We are committed to serving our clients and helping them protect their interests and navigate through the unprecedented circumstances posed by COVID-19.
The following are just some of the legal and practical issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that we are ready and able to assist you with:
As regulatory reactions to COVID-19 have been implemented, businesses may face uncertainty as to which restrictions apply to their operations and how to appropriately respond. Additionally, there has been some uncertainty as to the actions that businesses can and cannot undertake as governments revise or lift certain preventative orders and vaccines are widely available. We can advise on the applicability of local, state, and federal limitations to their business and steps they can take to protect their interests while complying with applicable law.
- Advise individuals and businesses as to available forms of federal and state governmental relief
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to federal and state governments enacting legislation aimed at assisting businesses and individuals struggling financially. For instance, the most recent federal legislation providing for such relief, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, was enacted in March 2021 and extended existing relief programs while also adding new ones. We can assist individuals and businesses of all sizes and sectors in determining the forms of government relief that may be available to them.
- Advise employees of their rights under state and federal law
- Advise employers on the best ways to comply with these changing obligations
The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in businesses laying off or furloughing employees as their operations were slowed or suspended, and now may be facing issues relating to returning to work and the handling of preventative measures and vaccine-related issues. We are here to assist with the variety of employment law issues both employers and employees face as a result of COVID-19, including rights and obligations under employment contracts and applicable law, unemployment benefits, paid or unpaid leave, and eligibility for government relief that is or may become available to individuals and employers, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and disaster assistance from the Small Business Administration.
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- Interpret “force majeure” clauses in existing contracts
- Draft language for current contracts
- In the event of no “force majeure,” advise as to rights under common law
The COVID-19 outbreak has rendered it difficult or even impossible for parties to contracts to perform their obligations. Many contracts have “force majeure” clauses excusing nonperformance that results from certain naturally-occurring or uncontrollable events. We are prepared to evaluate clients’ contracts and surrounding circumstances to assess the scope and availability of force majeure clauses as well as common law contract theories such as impossibility or impracticability. We can also draft and negotiate provisions to address the impact of COVID-19 and other uncontrollable events for transactions that our clients are contemplating presently and in the future.
In the event your contract does not have a “force majeure” clause, please note that we are prepared to advise you of your right under common law.
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We can help companies that are subject to the reporting obligations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 draft the required disclosure regarding COVID-19’s effect on their business. We can also assist with the implementation of electronic signatures for future filings pursuant to recent SEC rule amendments, and the establishment of policies designed to reduce the risk of anti-fraud and insider trading liability. Additionally, as companies work to establish their new normal, many companies have decided to hold annual and special shareholders meetings remotely. We are here to help companies consider the options that may be available to them to determine the date, location, and/or means of attending annual shareholders meetings with respect to federal securities laws, state corporate laws, and companies’ charters.
We are here to assist health care providers in navigating the complex health care environment during the COVID-19 outbreak, including state and federal laws and regulations and the latest developments associated with telemedicine. Matters impacted by COVID-19 for which we may be of assistance include facility licensing, contracting physicians, nurses and other health services personnel, complying with existing and newly implemented regulations, and acquiring or leasing supplies and facilities as medical professionals attempt to treat and find a cure for this disease.
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We are here to assist lenders in both secured and unsecured financing arrangements evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 on such arrangements. Available assistance includes reviewing loan documents and advising clients on the impact of COVID-19 on financing arrangements, such as forbearance of loan payments, affirmative and negative covenants, default provisions, moratoriums on eviction proceedings, notice requirements, and other provisions. We are also available to answer questions related to relevant state and federal regulations and orders that have been or may be implemented in response to the outbreak which could have an effect on loan transactions.
As the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 continue to evolve, we are ready to answer questions related to the variety of real estate issues that have and may continue to surface for clients, including landlord/tenant disputes resulting from unused commercial properties, the inability to pay rent by commercial or residential tenants as a result of suspension of operations or unemployment, eviction proceedings and moratoriums thereon, and mortgages and foreclosures.
Data Privacy and Cyber Security
As more and more companies transition their employees to working remotely, those companies will likely face heightened cyber security risks. Hackers may attempt to take advantage of the social distancing trend by targeting sensitive information on employees’ personal computers at home. Vulnerable information can include both valuable business information such as trade secrets and personal information about consumers. We can assist clients with identifying risks and vulnerabilities inherent in the remote working environment, determining and implementing methods to help mitigate the risks of data breaches, navigate the regulatory landscape on the state and federal levels, and take the appropriate steps to address any data breaches, should they occur.
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As COVID-19 forces businesses to suspend operations, we are here to answer questions business owners may have regarding the coverage of their business interruption insurance or similar policies. Federal and state governments have considered legislation to expand insurance rights to address the overwhelming economic downturn COVID-19 has caused. We can assist businesses in reviewing and interpreting their insurance policies and relevant laws to evaluate coverage and determine if they have a viable claim for insurance proceeds arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.
If any of the above or related issues result in litigation, we are prepared to represent clients using our expertise and experience litigating matters including enforceability and breach of contract, health care disputes, transactions and relationships involving real estate, employer/employee disputes, insurance claims, loan forbearance, and general commercial litigation, as well as administrative hearings for businesses and individuals seeking regulatory relief.
If you have any questions about the legal issues set forth above or other implications of COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us. We intend to remain available to clients and look forward to working with you to get through these difficult and unprecedented times.