New York City’s “Just Cause Laws” Are Making It Tougher to Fire Certain At-Will Employees

Author: Rachael Marvin

Guest Editor: Blaire Bayliss

July 2, 2021 9:00am

New York’s “Just Cause Laws” took effect on July 5, 2021, making it tougher for employers to fire certain at-will employees in New York City.i Mayor de Blasio previously signed two bills on January 5, 2021, which expanded protections for fast-food workers in New York City, requiring certain employers now provide “just cause” or a bona fide economic reason for firing at-will employees.

Employers Must Prepare to Implement Paid Family and Medical Leave

Author: Marlene Otero

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

June 9, 2021 10:22am

Employers should reevaluate their paid family and medical leave (PFML) programs for their employees. Many states are enacting PMFL programs to include an income replacement program. Currently, states with PMFL programs include California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington State and Washington D.C.

Update: California District Court Upholds Previous Dismissal of Wife’s COVID-19 Civil Suit

Author: David Kahn

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

June 4, 2021 9:00am

In our April Newsletter, Tyson & Mendes reported a California federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the wife of a construction worker. Plaintiff claimed her husband contracted COVID-19 at work and brought the virus home infecting her as well. Following the dismissal, the district court judge gave plaintiff an opportunity to amend her complaint. At a hearing on May 7, 2021, the court upheld the dismissal without further leave to amend. As of this date, it is unknown whether plaintiff will appeal.

The Wave of Recent COVID-19 Litigation and Trends to Watch For

Author: Rachel Donnelly

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

April 2, 2021 9:00am

California recently passed the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 stay at home order. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives in different ways. Employees who regularly worked in an office now work from home. Restaurant chains open for years have shut their doors for good as they could no longer turn a profit. COVID-19 has also affected litigation. It was unclear what types of suits would result from the pandemic. However, a year into this unforeseen global epidemic, we now have a better idea of the types of lawsuits which will be filed. This article explores recent news involving COVID-19 litigation throughout the United States in an effort to achieve a better understanding of how litigation has changed.

The Effect of COVID-19 on The Music Industry and Recent Case Law

Author: Robert Bernstein

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

April 2, 2021 9:00am

While the streaming of recorded music remains healthy, live music venues, musicians, and those who support them have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants may survive by offering food to go and in some instances outdoor seating, but a concert cannot be packaged to take home, and it is not practical to perform outdoors for small groups, even when weather and noise are not concerns. Following are summaries of two recent music industry decisions, one a win for an insurer and one a win for a concertgoer. A third ongoing case involving a dispute with an insurer over a cancelled music tour is also discussed.

Does Government Suspension of Onsite Dining Trigger Business Interruption Loss Coverage

Author: Cheryl Wilson

Guest Editor: Kiran Gupta

April 2, 2021 9:00am

It depends. Even though the world may be in crisis, a written contract continues to provide a certain measure of stability. In Nevada, restaurants ceased on-site dining due to a quarantine mandate in March 2020 and restaurants continue to limit the number of guests to this day. Hundreds of businesses suddenly could no longer serve guests in Las Vegas. While it hurt those businesses, a recent decision by U.S. District Court clearly shows, even in a pandemic, the policy language of a contract controls what is covered, and courts will not bend the language due to COVID-19.

Can Employers Require COVID-19 Vaccination?

Author: Aurora Levinson

March 8, 2021 8:00am

Last December, the U.S. rolled out its first vaccines against COVID-19, marking a turning point in the pandemic.  Many employers wondered whether they could or should require employees to vaccinate.  Another question is whether this requirement would violate ADA and religious mandate regulations.

To Zoom or Not to Zoom…That is the Question.

Author: Brianna Andrade

March 1, 2021 12:48pm

March 2021 marks the year anniversary that jury trials seemingly ceased to exist as we once knew them – that is, before COVID-19 abruptly shifted the courtroom.  In the past year, jury trials have been ridden with unpredictability.  One can rarely read a legal document these days without at least some mention of COVID-19 and its impact on the overall timeline of a matter.  Are jury trials really a distant memory while still navigating midst of the COVID-19 era, or will innovation and the embrace of a new normal propel us forward?

New York Judge Rules Loss of Property Use Due to COVID-19 Does Not Trigger Business Interruption Coverage

Author: Rachael Marvin, Robert Modica

February 19, 2021 8:50am

A movie theater is on the hook for business losses due to COVID-19 shutdown orders, after the New York Supreme Court in Nassau County ruled the loss of the use of premises due to COVID-19 does not constitute a direct physical loss triggering business interruption coverage. Judge Driscoll recognized New York precedent requires a tangible physical alteration to the policyholder’s property, which did not occur in the case of Soundview Cinemas Inc. v. Great American Insurance Group.

Will Women’s Independence be a Silent Victim of the Pandemic?

Author: Marlene Otero

February 9, 2021 9:00am

The UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia stated, “Everything [women have] worked for, that has taken 25 years, could be lost in a year.”  The relentless nature of COVID-19 has put an alarming amount of people out of work, and the majority of the unemployed workforce are women.  Of the more than one million workers ages 20 and over who left the workforce as of September 2020, 85.6% were women.  Leading causes as to why women are leaving…

Recent Changes in New York Landlord-Tenant Laws Due to COVID-19 Temporarily Halt Evictions Until May 2021

Author: Rachael Marvin

February 9, 2021 9:00am

Under New York property law, a landlord may bring a special proceeding to remove tenants who continue to occupy the premises without permission after the lease term is over. This provides New York state courts with broad authority to remove holdover tenants. However, recent Executive Orders issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Administrative Orders issued by the Chief Administrative Judge in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have sharply limited…

Developments in Business Interruption Insurance Coverage and Litigation Due to COVID-19

Author: Tina Ma, Mike Coffey

February 1, 2021 8:28pm

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, lockdown and stay at home orders have returned, shutting down and limiting business operations.  As such, it is likely the number of business interruption claims will increase in the upcoming months.  Historically, business interruption insurance cover claims arising from natural disasters and most policies contain a specific exclusion for damages arising from a virus.  Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020…

Can CRE Landlords Be Held Liable for COVID-19 Exposures?

Featured: Rob Olson

Millionacres – January 19, 2021

Rob Olson is senior counsel in San Diego with Tyson & Mendes, a litigation firm that specializes in insurance defense. He said:

“The first question in evaluating a lawsuit over COVID exposure: Where did the plaintiff allege they were exposed? If it was at work, in a tenant’s office space, then it is outside the property owners’ control. But if the plaintiff alleges that they were exposed in a common area, then the property owner may not easily get out of the lawsuit.”


What to Expect from Future Business Interruption Coverage Cases in New Jersey: COVID-19 Closures May Be Considered a Covered Loss

Author: Rachael Marvin, Robert Modica

Guest Editor: Amy Chambers

January 11, 2021 9:00am

Two important lawsuits have paved the way for business interruption coverage cases in New Jersey due to COVID-19: Optical Services USA v. Franklin Mutual Insurance Co. and Mac Property Group LLC v. Selective Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. Both are recent Superior Court decisions, decided on August 13, 2020, and November 5, 2020, respectively. In both cases, New Jersey Superior Courts addressed the key issue of whether…

COVID-19 Business Loss Coverage Update

Author: David Kahn

January 11, 2021 9:00am

According to Law360, there are over 1,400 federal lawsuits fighting denials by insurance carriers for COVID-19 business loss coverage and over 600 such suits in state court. In last month’s Newsletter, we reported the dismissal of the complaint of two Fresno hotels claiming business losses based on the virus exclusion in their respective insurance policies continuing the trend of California courts. (West Coast Hotel Management, LLC…

The Nevada Division of Insurance and Power to Suspend Policy Exclusions for Pandemic-Related Coverage

Author: Cheryl Wilson

Guest Editor: Jeremy Freedman

November 30, 2020 3:59pm

The Nevada Division of Insurance can create law and determine when the law has been violated. The Division of Insurance has original jurisdiction to hear matters when a party seeks to force a carrier to comply with the insurance code. (Allstate Ins. Co. v. Thorpe (Nev. 2007) 123 Nev. 565; see also NRS § 686A.015 [stating “the Commissioner has exclusive jurisdiction in regulating the subject of trade practices in the business of insurance in this state.”]). NRS 679B.301(1) authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to hold hearings for any purpose under…

Federal District Court in California Dismisses Hotel Owners’ COVID-19 Business Loss Lawsuit Based on Virus Exclusion in Policy

Author: David Kahn

Guest Editor: Jeremy Freedman

November 30, 2020 3:41pm

The Central District Court of California has dismissed the Complaint of two Fresno hotels claiming business losses to COVID-19. Following the trend of other California courts, the Central District Court found the Complaint failed to specifically allege facts supporting a claim for Business Income and Civil Authority coverage under the applicable Insurance Policy. Accordingly, the Court held the hotels’ COVID-19 related business losses were excluded from coverage under the Policy’s Virus Exclusion.

Can a Home Office Establish Venue in Illinois?

Author: Scott Ruksakiati

Guest Editor: Nathan Berkeley

November 30, 2020 3:26pm

During an extended period of COVID-19-related changes to the way businesses operate, and considering the uncertainty of what the situation may be in the coming months, the potential significance of a recent Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion on the issue of whether a home office is sufficient for purposes of establishing venue cannot be overemphasized. Even though the facts of Tabirta v. Cummings, 2020 IL 124798, originated well before COVID-19 surfaced to influence many parts of everyday life, its issuance during the pandemic serves to provide guidance for business owners and defense counsel alike moving forward, especially when so many employees are working from home.

Proposed S8587 Declares Agreements Exempting Employers From Liability for Negligence Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic Void and Unenforceable

Author: Kiley McCarthy Connolly

Guest Editor: Jenn N. Crittondon

November 2, 2020 3:00pm

In proposed New York Senate Bill S8587, the legislature is considering passing a law which declares agreements exempting employers from liability for negligence related to the COVID-19 pandemic void and unenforceable. The bill is sponsored by Senator Liu, Senator Biaggi, and Senator Carlucci and was introduced to the New York Senate on June 16, 2020.

Liability Protections in a COVID-19 World

Author: Scott Ruksakiati

Guest Editor: David Kahn

October 5, 2020 1:46pm

Soon after States began imposing quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became readily apparent many businesses would be severely and negatively impacted, perhaps permanently. Certainly, for home improvement and home gardening retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, 2020 has been a lucrative year.  However, other businesses, such as gyms, salons, restaurants, and bars, which rely primarily on patrons visiting their locations in person, have seen catastrophic consequences due to the pandemic. The federal government recognized the devastating effects pandemic-related restrictions would…

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