This is the type of legal analysis and authority that I would expect to see for the stay in place and other orders relating to COVID-19 and the coronavirus situation . . . .

I have provided below a link to a 2005 article (and a first page snapshot – the article is 8 pages) in which the authors discuss legal aspects of state police powers to order isolation, quarantine, health and inspection laws to interrupt or prevent the spread of disease. Note that the article is only the opinions of the authors, I am sure that additional legal authorities exist that the authors have not cited, the article is not directed to California where I am located, or to the county or city where I live, the article is from 2005, which is fairly recent in the context of legal discussions but likely there are additional relevant legal authorities subsequent to 2005, and, as commented below, every such situation and location must be separately evaluated and justified.

Why am I posting this? Plain and simple, because I am a lawyer, I am interested in laws and processes relating to responsibilities, rights, authority, decision making, governance, and risk management, and this is the type of discuss and justification that I would expect to see and that I would hope to see when governmental entities or authorities issue an order or pass legislation, but I am not seeing this type of discussion and justification in the circumstances of the current various different stay at home and other orders and police actions. I simply want to see these discussions as part of the process for all such orders and actions.

People who know me know that I am not turning political – I’m just being a lawyer on this.

Without a doubt, the federal government has police, safety, and public health powers, and individual states also have police, safety, and public health powers although state powers will vary from state to state based on their individual constitutions and other authority including case law interpretation and precedent. And as we are also seeing county and local city or town orders and actions, a similar analysis would also need to be performed for those orders and actions. But every such situation is different including the applicable law, the factual circumstances including the reasonably known and verifiable risks to the individual public that are at issue, the rights that are at stake and that are being limited, and the orders or legislation or other actions that are proposed, ordered or enacted. Thus, I would expect such a discussion for each and every order, legislative act, or action.

There are serious and very important responsibility, right, and legal authority issues at play here. California, for example, has a fairly long Constitution with strong individual rights, which is the way that it should be; on the other hand, there is no doubt that the federal government, and the State of California both have some authority to legislate or order actions to protect the public health and safety. But there needs to be an evaluation of the actions being taken or proposed in light of the identifiable rights that are involved, the limitations on those rights, the actions being taken or proposed, the stated reasons for the actions that are being taken or proposed, the actual reasonably known, identifiable, and verifiable risks and risk management issues that are at issue with respect to the individual public and the public at large in a particular location, and the legal authority of the entity enacting the legislation or issuing the order or taking the action. And I am not seeing these types of legal discussions. I should add that while citing a particular law, statute or regulation as authority for the actions being taken is helpful and should be required, I would also say that simply providing a citation without also citing the specific factual support (i.e., the evidence being relied upon, and not just “science”) for the decision being made and the action being taken is a rather vague and speculative approach.

Different courts at different times have evaluated government actions in these situations by different criteria, for example varying in approach between on the one hand giving deference to government actions, but on the other hand limiting the actions based on the legal authority that the governmental entity possesses, the nature and importance of the rights that are involved, and whether the actions or limitations that are imposed are the reasonably least restrictive and justified under the circumstances.

The following is a link to the eight-page article. Note that the discussion in the article isn’t the answer in the current situation that we are seeing because it isn’t written for the current situation, it doesn’t cite all relevant legal authorities, and the current situation will vary from state to state and location to location (e.g., county, city or town, etc.) within each state, but the article is the type of legal discussion and evaluation that we should be seeing and that I would expect and wish to see from the ordering, enacting or enforcing entity, but that I am not seeing. Here is the article link, followed by a snapshot of part of page one from the article:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569983/

 

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California)

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Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Blogs

Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

      • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

      • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
      • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
      • M&A disputes.
      • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
      • Buy-sell disputes.
      • Funding and share dilution disputes.
      • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
      • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
      • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
      • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

      • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
      • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.

Mediations and Services as a Mediator

* * * * *

 

Getting out of, or delaying, or modifying contracts as a result of COVID-19 and/or government actions – what we are seeing: force majeure clauses, impossibility, commercial impracticability, frustration of purpose, bankruptcy, or other possibilities

A lot of businesses are looking at getting out of, or delaying, or modifying contracts as a result of COVID-19 and/or government actions.

Typical legal arguments for doing so include: force majeure clauses, impossibility, commercial impracticability, frustration of purpose, bankruptcy, or other possibilities.

Each contract and situation is unique, and has to be separately evaluated. For example, this morning I read an article about Hollywood studios starting to enforce force majeure clauses. But force majeure clauses are just one of the possible issues to evaluate, and each force majeure clause and it’s wording has to be considered and evaluated in light of the particular factual situation, jurisdiction, venue, and applicable state law.

The following are two additional related blog post links, one discussing possible additional contract related issues at https://wp.me/p75iWX-sK, and one discussing possible insurance and insurance coverage related issues at https://wp.me/p75iWX-sV.

You will also find additional posts about the above topics, critical audit matters, and going concern issues on this blog http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California)

———————————————————————-

Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Blogs

Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

      • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

      • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
      • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
      • M&A disputes.
      • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
      • Buy-sell disputes.
      • Funding and share dilution disputes.
      • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
      • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
      • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
      • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

      • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
      • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.

Mediations and Services as a Mediator

* * * * *

California Department of Insurance Issues Alert for Insurers to Accept, Forward, Acknowledge, and Fairly Investigate All Business Interruption Insurance Claims

On April 14, 2020, the California Department of Insurance (by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara) issued an Alert in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically to all admitted and non-admitted insurance companies, all licensed insurance adjusters and producers, and other licensees and interested parties entitled “Requirement to Accept, Forward, Acknowledge, and Fairly Investigate All Business Interruption Insurance Claims Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.” You can find the Alert at the following link: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0250-insurers/0300-insurers/0200-bulletins/bulletin-notices-commiss-opinion/upload/Business-Interruption-Claims-Notice.pdf?inf_contact_key=44c76327a563a3b14bfebe52cf1546a1b7af0999dac2af6212784c39e05d2aef

You might be aware that possible insurance recovery by businesses for losses arising from COVID-19 already is a heavily discussed legal topic in the context of business interruption and other possible insurance policies and coverages. Each business should be evaluating each of its policies, not just its business interruption policy, for possible coverage. Such a discussion and evaluation requires specific policy analysis which is beyond the scope of this post or of any one post. Each insurance policy and its coverage, exclusions, etc., must be read and evaluated separately including such matters as the applicable jurisdiction and laws, not just the wording of the policy but also the intent of the policy and the parties, contract and insurance policy legal interpretation, presumptions, burden of proof, etc.

The Alert is also interesting for its citations to the California Code of Regulations at Sections 2695.5 and 2695.7, and requirements pertaining to the acceptance, forwarding, acknowledgement, and fair investigation, acceptance, or denial as those Sections apply to all insurance policies and claims. For example, in part, Section 2695.7(b) requires:

(b) Upon receiving proof of claim, every insurer, except as specified in subsection 2695.7(b)(4) below, shall immediately, but in no event more than forty (40) calendar days later, accept or deny the claim, in whole or in part. The amounts accepted or denied shall be clearly documented in the claim file unless the claim has been denied in its entirety.

(1) Where an insurer denies or rejects a first party claim, in whole or in part, it shall do so in writing and shall provide to the claimant a statement listing all bases for such rejection or denial and the factual and legal bases for each reason given for such rejection or denial which is then within the insurer’s knowledge. Where an insurer’s denial of a first party claim, in whole or in part, is based on a specific statute, applicable law or policy provision, condition or exclusion, the written denial shall include reference thereto and provide an explanation of the application of the statute, applicable law or provision, condition or exclusion to the claim. Every insurer that denies or rejects a third party claim, in whole or in part, or disputes liability or damages shall do so in writing.

(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection 2695.7(k), nothing contained in subsection 2695.7(b)(1) shall require an insurer to disclose any information that could reasonably be expected to alert a claimant to the fact that the subject claim is being investigated as a suspected fraudulent claim.

(3) Written notification pursuant to this subsection shall include a statement that, if the claimant believes all or part of the claim has been wrongfully denied or rejected, he or she may have the matter reviewed by the California Department of Insurance, and shall include the address and telephone number of the unit of the Department which reviews claims practices.

However, in part, Sections 2695.7(c), (d), and (e) also provide:

(c)(1) If more time is required than is allotted in subsection 2695.7(b) to determine whether a claim should be accepted and/or denied in whole or in part, every insurer shall provide the claimant, within the time frame specified in subsection 2695.7(b), with written notice of the need for additional time. This written notice shall specify any additional information the insurer requires in order to make a determination and state any continuing reasons for the insurer’s inability to make a determination. Thereafter, the written notice shall be provided every thirty (30) calendar days until a determination is made or notice of legal action is served. If the determination cannot be made until some future event occurs, then the insurer shall comply with this continuing notice requirement by advising the claimant of the situation and providing an estimate as to when the determination can be made.

(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection 2695.7(k), nothing contained in subsection 2695.7(c)(1) shall require an insurer to disclose any information that could reasonably be expected to alert a claimant to the fact that the claim is being investigated as a possible suspected fraudulent claim.

(d) Every insurer shall conduct and diligently pursue a thorough, fair and objective investigation and shall not persist in seeking information not reasonably required for or material to the resolution of a claim dispute.

(e) No insurer shall delay or deny settlement of a first party claim on the basis that responsibility for payment should be assumed by others, except as may otherwise be provided by policy provisions, statutes or regulations, including those pertaining to coordination of benefits.

Obviously each individual insurance policy and coverage situation must be separately evaluated. Similarly, in this unusual time many contracts between suppliers and buyers also need to be evaluated – see my prior post at https://wp.me/p75iWX-sK.

In the insurance policy context whether or not an insurer has acted reasonably or unreasonably and possible bad faith are evaluated on many different actions and criteria, some but not all of which, can include the following:

  • The failure to investigate the claim or to investigate the claim thoroughly (and fairly to the insured);
  • The failure to evaluate the claim objectively;
  • Using incorrect, erroneous, improper or unduly restrictive standards or interpretations to delay, frustrate or deny the insured’s claim or the claim form;
  • Delay in claims handling;
  • Unreasonably and unfairly requesting additional and further unnecessary documents or evidence from the insured;
  • The failure to timely or with sufficient detail communicate acceptance or denial of the claim or acceptance or denial of the individual parts of the claim;
  • Unreasonable or unfair delay in payment on the claim;
  • Unreasonably low first party or third party claim or settlement offers;
  • Unreasonable litigation, or unreasonable litigation tactics to delay, frustrate or avoid payment on the insured’s claim;
  • Unreasonable or unfair post claim interpretation or underwriting practices;
  • And other unreasonable, unfair, deceptive, abusive, or coercive practices and tactics to delay or avoid the payment of claims.

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California)

———————————————————————-

Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Blogs

Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

      • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

      • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
      • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
      • M&A disputes.
      • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
      • Buy-sell disputes.
      • Funding and share dilution disputes.
      • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
      • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
      • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
      • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

      • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
      • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.