The Ansa Assuncao COVID-19 Response Team is advising clients on a wide-range of legal issues, operational concerns, and implications arising from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Our attorneys are fielding inquiries and providing advice in a wide range of areas, including:
Contract / Commercial Litigation
Products Liability and Class Actions
Trade Practices / Price-Gouging Investigation
Whistleblower / False Claims Act Actions
Contracts / Commercial Litigation
The failure to fulfill one contract may cause a domino effect and create losses far beyond the terms of the original agreement. The COVID-19 pandemic presents such an environment where the ramifications of restructuring large parts of the economy and the temporary shut-down of other parts have put renewed focus on what and how commercial contracts may be enforced or excused from enforcement. Contract issues of impossibility, force majeure, and illegality among others are likely to arise from business disputes caused by the pandemic. More than ever, businesses and individuals need a deep understanding of where and how they can collect what is due them or defend against claims seeking recovery from them. The experienced contract and litigation counsel that Ansa Assuncao can provide is essential to navigating this new contract environment.
Read more about Ansa Assuncao’s Labor and Employment Practice
Ansa Assuncao’s Labor and Employment attorneys are actively monitoring developments in local, state and federal employment law related to the COVID-19 outbreak and advising employers on their obligations under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and CARES Act, as well as under existing employment laws, such as the FMLA, ADA, HIPAA and WARN Act. We are currently assisting employers with reductions-in-force, layoffs and furloughs, work-from-home policies, issues related to paid sick or expanded FMLA leave under the new FFCRA, and revising policy manuals and handbooks as new COVID-19 related policies are implemented. We stand ready to assist in the defense of any employment claims arising from the COVID-19 crisis, such as claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act or FMLA for failure to provide paid sick leave or expanded FMLA leave, ADA claims for failure to accommodate a lingering health condition caused by COVID-19, discrimination claims arising out of the termination of employment, and WARN or wage and hour claims following a business closure or shut-down
The COVID-19 pandemic places an acute strain on the healthcare industry and presents an array of legal issues. Ansa Assuncao’s attorneys are prepared to advise healthcare providers and assist them in navigating these unprecedented circumstances. The healthcare industry is adapting to rapidly changing challenges presented by the pandemic with the widespread use of telemedicine, medical volunteers, and temporary facilities, while navigating an evolving set of federal and state regulations governing the licensure, allowable scope of work, and immunity of healthcare professionals performing the vital work of responding to COVID-19. As healthcare professionals see an enormous rise in the demand for their services, they are simultaneously experiencing acute shortages in personnel, medical supplies and personal protective equipment. In turn, healthcare institutions are struggling to provide quarantined lodging for their staff members and to keep their facilities staffed. Moving forward, the industry will inevitably experience litigation arising from COVID-19, from contractors, employees, and patients. Our attorneys can provide assistance and guidance through this crisis, its resulting regulatory upheaval, and the litigation that will likely follow.
Read more about Ansa Assuncao’s Insurance Coverage Practice
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses across all industry sectors, resulting in widespread disruption, shutdowns, layoffs and delays. In this challenging environment, companies must look for ways to minimize or recover business losses, identify exposures and manage risk. Ansa Assuncao’s Insurance attorneys specialize in helping businesses review their liability, property, and other commercial insurance policies, and we can identify available coverages and assess potential exclusions (e.g., virus/bacteria exclusions). We partner with our clients to identify liability exposures and manage their ongoing risk. We are closely monitoring state legislative and regulatory responses to the pandemic, including several state bills that would require insurers to provide business interruption coverage despite virus exclusions. While it is unclear whether any of these bills will become law, companies need to stay apprised of these potential developments. Ansa Assuncao’ s attorneys stand ready to assist companies navigate this dynamic environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses difficult challenges for businesses as they grapple with the need to remain operational while protecting the safety of their employees, customers, tenants, or visitors. States and localities have imposed new requirements on businesses with the goal of protecting the public and slowing the spread of the virus, and we are actively monitoring developments in this unchartered legal landscape. We anticipate that the pandemic will give rise to a host of novel liability theories that businesses exposed individuals on their premises to infection by failing to adequately maintain safety practices such as using personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting their facilities, coordinating social distancing of customers and employees, and providing notice or warnings where instances of infection are found. Ansa Assuncao’s attorneys have the knowledge and experience to guide businesses in understanding the scope of their duties to business invitees, implementing proper safety measures, and minimizing liability exposure to the greatest extent possible where a failure to warn or protect an individual on their premises is alleged.
Products Liability and Class Actions
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to spawn litigation and class actions targeting manufacturers, distributors, and retailers making and selling products employed in the fight against the novel coronavirus and the disease it brings on. The attorneys at Ansa Assuncao have decades of experience fighting for clients in products liability litigation and defending class actions. Our attorneys continue to actively monitor the situation and are prepared to protect our clients by responding to any threats that arise in the fallout of this pandemic. With a deep understanding of our clients’ industries and their products, the scientific process, and the inside of a courtroom, we will protect your legitimate interests.
Trade Practices / Price Gouging Investigation
Federal and state authorities are now conducting investigations of alleged price gouging stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. State Attorney General Offices watch for and monitor any change in the pricing of goods and services in times of national and/or state emergencies and have the ability to launch independent investigations. Investigations may also be initiated by consumer complaint. Ansa Assuncao’s trade practices team, which includes former Assistant United States Attorneys and a former Marine Judge Advocate/Special Assistant to the United States Attorney, provides advice and assistance to businesses faced with governmental investigations, investigatory requests, and subpoenas. With offices in five states and access to a select network of experienced local attorneys in every jurisdiction across the country, we can also handle any litigation that arises from claims of price gouging or alleged trade practices violations.
Whistleblower / False Claims Act Actions
The CARES Act provides various government benefits, including the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP and other programs under the CARES Act require recipients to provide detailed information to the government to show eligibility. Businesses must be sure that they are eligible for the funds and assistance they request and that all their representations are accurate. In their haste to apply for aid, businesses must not inflate or misrepresent financial or employment information, and should ensure that representations to the government are consistent with public and private documents. Furthermore, any business that has experienced increased profits due to the Coronavirus crisis should not apply for aid, and businesses should use the aid for the purposes intended and required under the CARES Act. Misrepresentations in connection with government aid are punishable under the False Claims Act, which includes treble (triple) damages, attorney fees, fines, and whistleblower bounties. Ansa Assuncao attorneys are experienced in counseling clients to determine their eligibility for government assistance, ensuring that representations to the government are accurate, and in handling whistleblower and False Claims Act investigations and litigation.