An adaptation of Jean's?presentation from the annual Managed Care + Employee Benefits Litigation Summit on October 1, 2020, the article examines implications the COVID-19 pandemic has had on COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) continuation coverage. Specifically, the article discusses the extension of the COBRA notice deadlines due to the pandemic and the challenges group health plan administrators and third-party administrators (TPAs) face in meeting their obligations in these uncertain times. The ERISA Report provides updates and analysis of the latest case and regulatory developments in the ever-changing ERISA arena.
Insurance + Reinsurance Group member, Denis O'Malley,?moderated a panel discussion of the Connecticut Police Accountability Act’s implications for?the state’s Freedom of Information Act on December 10, 2020.?The panel was presented by the Connecticut Bar Association's Media & the Law Section, which Denis serves as Education Liaison. Titled “Connecticut’s Police Reform Bill and Access to Police Records,” the program discussed how the bill expands access to police disciplinary records, one of several measures through which the Connecticut legislature intended to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability in the wake of widespread calls for social justice in 2020.
The piece is a follow-up to a series of articles on the same topic republished on October 22, 2020 and August 26, 2020. All three pieces were originally published as posts on R+C’s Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Insider blog and focus on the, recently passed, Right to Repair' law, which expands access to certain diagnostic and repair data collected by onboard computer systems that is currently only accessible in 'real-time' by the manufacturers (and in turn, their dealers). The latest article examines a lawsuit filed against Massachusetts in federal court by a group of automakers through the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to block the new 'Right to Repair' law that passed on November 3, 2020. The lawsuit argues that the law will impose a financial burden on auto manufacturers and threatens the privacy of car owners by exposing data from their vehicles.
The article focuses on how industries unable to engage in remote work are now considering adapting more long-term or permanent strategies as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The realization that the length of the pandemic will be measured in months, or even years, rather than weeks, has prompted many to consider how these adaptations can be implemented in a more permanent way as a part of the ‘new normal,’ including in strategies fundamental to business operations such as the design, construction and operations planning of commercial facilities.” Niel goes on to examine increasing air circulation and redesigning spaces as examples of strategies.
Labor and Employment Group members, Natale DiNatale and Abby Warren, took part in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Health Law Section full-day 2020 Health Law Conference, conducted in a virtual setting on December 4, 2020. They presented the program "Special Issues in Healthcare Workplace Investigations," joined?by Sonia Worrell Asare, an in-house attorney in the health care industry. In addition to these lawyers, the?Conference faculty included speakers from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Board of Registration in Medicine, and the Board of Bar Overseers, as well as private sector attorneys who deal with compliance issues.
Business Transactions Group member, Kathleen Porter, and Health Law Group member, Anna Gurevich,?took part in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Health Law Section full-day 2020 Health Law Conference, conducted in a virtual setting on December 4, 2020. They?presented the program “Privacy and Security Issues in Health Care.” Kathleen and Anna?were part of the Conference faculty, which this year included speakers from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Board of Registration in Medicine, and the Board of Bar Overseers, as well as private sector attorneys who deal with compliance issues.
Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team member, Kathryn Rattigan, and Construction Law Group member, Ginger Trunkes, presented the CLE webinar, "The Commercial Use of Drones in Real Estate Development and Construction: Benefits, Legal Compliance, Respecting Privacy and Best Practices," on December 3, 2020. The webinar was hosted by myLawCLE and the Federal Bar Association. The commercial application of drones continues to expand, and their current and potential benefits in real estate development and construction are unparalleled. The unique characteristics of drones enable engineers to provide real estate developers and contractors with real-time, highly-detailed data for urban planning, land use, construction and post-construction forensics. The multiple benefits of drones are particularly valuable in the context of COVID-19-related issues and restrictions. But advancing technology comes with a cost, and for drone activity that cost is intensified privacy concerns. Discussion topics included the regulatory framework for drones used in the private sector, drones’ device characteristics and abilities, the current state of privacy laws, and tips for businesses seeking to address privacy concerns to use drones without controversy.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group members, Emily Deans and Diana Neeves, presented "Environmental Decisions of Interest," an update on recent environmental litigation decisions.?
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, Jim Ray, moderated the interactive panel discussion, “Hot Topics and Future Trends in Environmental Litigation and Related Proceedings,” on November 19, 2020.?
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, Jon Schaefer, moderated the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources’ webinar, "Achieving Sustainability for Electric Vehicle Transportation: Emerging Issues" on November 19, 2020. The panel discussed legal components and the strategic framework playing a role in the ongoing innovation and transformation of sustainable automotive transportation and the power grid from state utility regulatory, supplier/ commercial, and federal perspectives.?
Construction Law Group member, Ginger Trunkes, co-presented the webinar, "I. JUST. CAN’T. Contractual Non-Performance Theories of Impossibility and Impracticability in the COVID Era," hosted on November 18, 2020, by the Corporate & Commercial Committee of the Westchester Women's Bar Association.
Labor and Employment Group member, Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, presented the webinar program, "Employment Law in the Next Administration & Reshaped Supreme Court" during the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Employment Law Conference on November 13, 2020. The program highlighted workplace policy issues currently in the spotlight and those waiting in the wings of the White House, federal agencies, Congress, and the federal courts.
Litigation Section co-chair, Rhonda Tobin, was one of the organizers of the American College of Coverage Counsel‘s (ACCC) COVID-19 Liability webinar presented jointly with the Insurance Law Center at UConn Law School and the Connecticut Bar Association Insurance Law Section on November 12, 2020. Rhonda is a Fellow of the ACCC. The program focused on the liability claims and related insurance issues that are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 90 people attended the program, including representatives of insurance companies, judges, lawyers, academics and law students. The keynote presenter was Prof. Tom Baker of the University of Pennsylvania, who discussed the case law trends he has observed in the course of developing Penn’s COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker website with Lex Machina. The program also featured a presentation on insurance coverage for the emerging liability claims, followed by a roundtable discussion of liability and insurance coverage issues moderated by Rhonda.
Labor and Employment Group members Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, Rachel Kushel and Abby Warren presented the webinar "The Next Chapter of COVID-19: How Employers Can Remain Vigilant About COVID-19 This Fall" on November 12, 2020.?
Throughout 2020, employers have seen many changes to their legal obligations and the ways in which they operate their workplaces as a result of COVID-19.?With the holidays approaching, and with COVID-19 cases spiking across the country, employers continue to grapple with the operational issues and challenges related to COVID-19.?As we enter the holiday season, it is critical that employers remain vigilant about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces. The program explored six important questions that employers are posing about the next chapter of COVID-19, ranging from employee travel and vaccinations to COVID-19 testing and additional strategies for protecting against COVID-19 in the workplace. There was also discussion of significant new changes in the law since spring. Questions from attendees were encouraged.
Health Law Group member, Brian Nichols, and Construction Group member, Ginger Trunkes, presented the R+C- and GREYHAWK-hosted webinar, "Reducing Pitfalls in Health Care Construction," on November 10, 2020, alongside GREYHAWK's Charles Boland and Barrett Richards. Unexpected claims and disputes in health care construction projects can cost millions of dollars in legal and consulting fees, in addition to related construction and delay charges. Outside counsel and subject matter experts can save time and money by identifying and addressing potential problems earlier in the process. The program covered several key areas to consider in achieving the on-time, on-budget, quality completion of a health care construction project.
Labor and Employment Group member, Emily Zaklukiewicz, and Employee Benefits + Compensation Group member, Alisha Sullivan,?co-hosted the webinar "Strategies for Successful Business Development and Marketing During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond" for the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) -?Young Lawyers Section (YLS) on November 10, 2020.?The webinar,?moderated by Emily, featured R+C’s Senior Business Development Manager, Michelle Feehan, as a panelist.?The panel offered several perspectives on?strategies young lawyers can utilize to continue to build and market their practice, as well as how they can develop their business in the new remote environment and beyond. Emily serves as Co-Chair of the CBA-YLS Women in the Law Committee, and Alisha?is the CBA-YLS Women in the Law Committee Director.
The article examines distinctions between constitutional standing and statutory authority in the context of contested matters and adversary proceedings pending within cases filed under the Bankruptcy Code. Patrick and Jamie also visit Bankruptcy Code § 1109 and Bankruptcy Rule 2018 to provide finer points on the tutorial.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group members Earl Phillips, Brian Freeman and Bob Melvin took part in the R+C-hosted program “Practical and Economic Implications of Climate Change” on November 5, 2020. The event began with introductions by Earl Phillips and a brief update from Brian on significant developments from the past year regarding the Clean Air Act, including developments on greenhouse gas and climate change concerns. Bob moderated the panel discussion, “Climate Change and Sustainability Efforts.” The panel comprised three professionals managing sustainability programs and providing perspectives from electric utilities, fuel and energy suppliers, and higher education institutions. The program concluded with a presentation by a guest speaker and expert on the growth of sustainable investing and the impacts of climate change and related environmental, social and governance concerns on the private sector.
Business Transactions Group member, Norm Roos, presented the introduction and overview during the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association's webinar, "CMBA 2020 Legislative Update," on November 5, 2020. The program featured a number of presentations, followed by a Q&A session. Norm has moderated this annual program since 2014 and serves as Counsel to the CMBA.
Labor and Employment Group members Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson and Abby Warren presented the breakout session, "Investigating Workplace Safety Concerns in the Age of a Pandemic," on November 5, 2020, during the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) 2020 Annual Conference. The virtual program walked through the resources investigators can rely on to understand the public health guidelines as well as what types of information to request from employers. Attendees reviewed several hypotheticals to gain a stronger understanding of how best to prepare for and structure a workplace investigation involving a safety complaint. The session also offered the chance to ask questions and discuss how to handle difficult situations, such as when an employer might have issued conflicting or incorrect guidance to employees. Britt-Marie currently serves on AWI’s Board of Directors.
Business Transactions Group member Stephen Hanson?moderated the webinar, "Mezzanine Lenders: Navigating an Insolvent Borrower," presented by Robinson+Cole on November 4, 2020, as part of the Small Business Investor Alliance's (SBIA)?Lunch & Learn Webinar Series. Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group co-chair, Patrick Birney?and?Business Transactions Group member, Kit Peabody, along with?Brian O'Reilly of Graycliff Partners, were panelists for this program.?The panel offered a deep look at?critical issues affecting lenders working with insolvent portfolio companies, such as their rights in relation to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code under chapters 7 and 11, including the small business provisions arising under the new subchapter 5 and the Payroll Protection Program’s impact on that subchapter. The panelists also reviewed issues that can impact the loan documents, including the Intercreditor Agreement, and how these align with the statutes, as well as treatment of co-investment positions, and concluded by offering tips on drafting these key agreements.
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government has issued a series of regulatory waivers and guidelines relaxing the applicability of otherwise stringent fraud and abuse laws, including the physician self-referral (Stark) law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law. The pandemic waivers afford providers an opportunity to demonstrate that these fraud and abuse laws are inhibiting beneficial arrangements and can be changed without significant risk to the public fisc; but fraudulent schemes that seek cover under the waivers could spoil things for everyone. In the article, Conor and Peter review the current waivers and guidelines in place, the types of arrangements they are intended to protect, and whether there may be unintended consequences that prevent the waivers from laying the foundation for long-term change.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, Bob Melvin, moderated?the virtual discussion, "The Clean Water Act at (Almost) 50 – How Federal Water Law Continues to Evolve and Affect Infrastructure Development,” offered by the Water Resources Committee of the Environmental Business Council of New England on November 3, 2020. Nearly half a century old, the Clean Water Act has neither slowed down nor lost any vitality. Long-brewing fights over the scope of the law have culminated recently in two major Clean Water Act legal milestones, which the program examined: a final EPA rule narrowing the definition of “waters of the United States” and a Supreme Court decision expanding the circumstances under which discharge permits are required. The panel of legal experts explained the significance of these developments that will affect just about anyone involved in significant infrastructure development in the United States, while a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offered a practical perspective. A robust discussion with the audience concluded the webinar. In addition to moderating the program, Bob also served as co-chair of the program.
Real Estate + Development and Land Use Groups member, Tim Twardowski, took part in the Urban Roundtable panel discussion "From Vacant to Vibrant" at the 2020 REALTORS? Conference & Expo hosted by the National Association of REALTORS? on November 2, 2020. Tim?provided?an overview of the common components of local vacant building ordinances, including target properties, registration requirements, and property action plans. He also addressed potential areas of concern for affected property owners and REALTORS?, including over-inclusiveness and inequitable registration fees.?Joining Tim?on the Urban Roundtable panel were?Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, and Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas.?
The?article addresses the balance between collecting health information from employees to maintain a safe workplace with those employees’ privacy concerns. Linn also covers several data privacy laws and principles that companies may wish to consider when determining how they will collect, use, disclose and maintain this employee data.
Employee Benefits and Compensation Group member, Virginia McGarrity, served as a panelist for the Connecticut Bar Association's webinar "Law Firm Retention: The Achilles Heel of Diversity," on October 28, 2020. The program focused on what can cause the break in diverse associates’ career trajectory within a law firm and examined common themes related to why diverse associates leave firms. A panel of diverse partners from various law firms offered suggestions for what can be done over the next few months to help retain diverse talent and considered what can be done to develop long-term retention plans. Virginia currently serves on R+C’s Diversity, Equity?& Inclusion Committee. She is a?is Past President of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association.
The article acknowledges the heightened focus of improvements to the design and construction of new and existing facilities, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one example being HVAC systems. The piece goes on to include the list of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for creating safe and healthy work and business spaces.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, Bob Melvin,?presented an update on significant developments in the Clean Water Act during an R+C-hosted virtual event on October 22, 2020.
The piece is a follow-up to an article on the same topic republished on August 26, 2020. Both pieces were originally published as posts on R+C’s Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Insider blog and examine a Massachusetts ballot question that would require a standardized, open data platform for vehicles equipped with telematics systems. The recent article focuses on the notion that the ballot question stands to close a loophole in the "Right to Repair" law that was first passed in 2013 and exempts manufacturers from sharing data transmitted wirelessly from the vehicle to the manufacturer.?
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member, Earl Phillips, moderated an interactive panel discussion, “Experiences and Best Practices: Inspections, Enforcement & Permitting," on October 22, 2020.The panel comprised three professionals from the Environmental, Health and Safety field.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group member,?Emilee Scott, presented an update on significant developments in Solid and Hazardous Waste and Chemicals in Commerce on October 22, 2020.
Labor and Employment Group members Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson and Natale DiNatale moderated the R+C-hosted webinar, "Part II: Connecticut’s Paid Family Medical Leave Act: A Conversation with Andrea Barton Reeves," on October 21, 2020. Reeves is the CEO of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority. She offered her insights and answered attendees’ questions about the progress of the statewide implementation of Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Law and the launch of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority. Topics included what employers need to know about the approval procedures for private plans, employer registration with the Authority, and how best to prepare for implementation, including the process being developed for addressing employer questions as they arise both during and after implementation. In a Q&A session following the presentation, Britt-Marie and Natale answered attendees’ questions regarding this new employment law.
Intellectual Property + Technology Law Group member, Maria Scungio,?continued her activity on behalf of R+C, attending?the American Intellectual Property Law Association's (AIPLA) Annual Meeting, held virtually in 2020,?as well as three meetings in Fall 2020 of?its IP Practice in Japan Committee, which were attended by more than 100?Japanese law firms and company in-house attorneys.