On July 1, 2020, an Ingham Michigan Judge dismissed a claim of first impression, ruling in favor of an insurer’s decision to deny business interruption coverage due to the finding that the insured business owner did not suffer a direct physical loss under the policy.

Similar to many lawsuits on this uniquely 2020 issue, the case (Gavrilides Management Company v. Michigan Insurance Company) focused on whether there was a “direct physical loss of or damage to the insured’s property” which would trigger the coverage for business interruption. This particular claim centered on a business owners’ two restaurants in Lansing Michigan in the amount of $650,000.

The insurer argued that the business interruption coverage kicks in by an occurrence that actually alters or damages the property, which apparently did not occur. The claimant argued that non-destructive losses are also covered by the policy.
Continue Reading Recent COVID-19 Business Interruption Decision is a Win for Insurers

The coronavirus has impacted more than an individual’s health and well-being. In the wake of this global pandemic, many businesses have been impacted — whether it be from an order from local or state government or because it has been directly hit with employees or customers who were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Businesses have had to grapple with the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” and alter their budget to purchase PPE and other sanitary items. Projections for revenue for 2020 were obliterated in the process leaving business owners with difficult decisions in terms of whether it is worthwhile to remain open in a limited capacity, temporary closure, furloughs, layoffs, bankruptcy, or in some cases going out of business. The Payroll Protection Program instituted by the Federal Government has provided a temporary salve, however, in many cases business losses continue in big and small ways.

Business Interruption Insurance

The natural offshoot of this business and economic disruption for businesses is whether their business insurance coverage, for which its owners paid premiums month in and month out, ‘owe’ for business income lost, and additional expenses, due to a viral pandemic such as to COVID-19.

Multiple insurers are facing federal class action lawsuits for denying business interruption claims. Further, claims by business owners for business disruption losses have increased exponentially. This post endeavors to examine some of the issues that will be at the forefront for business owners, and carriers, as it pertains to COVID-19.

Coverage


Continue Reading What You Need to Know About COVID-19 and Business Interruption Insurance Coverage

Two Fort Myers tax lawyers will once again host a complimentary webinar to help the Southwest Florida community understand the tax law changes in light of the COVID-19 crisis. On Friday, May 1, 2020, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm, Lindsay Sablan, a journalist and WINK News morning anchor, will serve as moderator, with speakers attorney Shanthy Bala, the Tax Clinic Director and Supervising Associate at Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., and Sara Qureshi, a business and tax attorney at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., will present “Tax Law Changes Amidst COVID-19: Further Guidance Providing Relief to Individuals and Small Businesses” in association with the Lee County Bar Association and its Pro Bono Committee.

This one-hour session will go over recent updates and frequently asked questions regarding federal tax relief available for individuals and businesses during COVID-19, including questions that were submitted to the clinic after the last webinar on April 3rd. Questions may be submitted in advance by email to Shanthy.Bala@FRLS.org.

Continuing Education


Continue Reading May 1 Webinar to Provide Guidance on COVID-19 Tax Relief for Individuals and Small Businesses

Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-91 (which the Governor amended later the same day for clarification). Section 1.B of Executive Order 20-91 provides “all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.”

What are essential services?

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to describe in general terms what an “essential service” is. Of course, if you own a business, you consider your business’s service or product essential, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business to begin with! Personal feelings aside, however, it’s important to understand how the State of Florida defines “essential services.”


Continue Reading COVID-19: What are Essential Services?

COVID-19 has disrupted businesses and has wrought havoc with timelines and deadlines. Likely, it will continue to do so. Many government agencies, such as the IRS as we reported here, are reacting to COVID-19 by extending deadlines. For those with intellectual property-related deadlines in the near term, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has recently made some policy changes in response to COVID-19.

Remote Appearances

While work goes on inside the USPTO, the building is closed to the public and any in-person business.  All previously scheduled meetings or hearings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) or Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) are to take place by video or teleconference.

Deadlines

With regard to deadlines to respond to USPTO actions, inquiries or other deadlines, those are set by statute and rule and the failure to timely respond to a deadline results in an abandonment of the underlying trademark or patent application or registration.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Impact on USPTO Deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced on March 25, 2020, an extensive series of steps to help taxpayers on a number of issues, including easing payment guidelines and postponing compliance actions, through the enactment of the People First Initiative.

People First Initiative

The People First Initiative is designed to help people facing uncertainty over taxes and is expected to take effect April 1 and run through July 15. Below are some of the notable aspects (for the complete list, click here):
Continue Reading COVID-19: IRS unveils the new “People First Initiative”

As COVID-19 spreads, many businesses, Henderson Franklin among them, have instituted remote work programs voluntarily or in response to state or local “shelter in place” orders. With the idea of continuing business as usual, companies have provided employees with hardware and software to gain remote access to networks or have allowed employees to use their own computers and devices to access the company network so they can seamlessly continue working. While these policies certainly help limit employee exposure to COVID-19, they can inadvertently increase a business’ exposure to theft of intellectual property, specifically trade secrets.

Trade Secrets


Continue Reading COVID-19: Trade Secrets and the Remote Workforce

We know business owners and HR professionals have questions and need answers quickly to rapidly changing laws concerning the coronavirus (“COVID-19”).

Grab a cup of coffee, login in and join me for a complimentary webinar on Monday morning, March 23, at 10:00 a.m., as I share information on:

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Emergency Paid