February 26, 2021

Law360: Coronavirus Special Report

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From Media & Entertainment Law360

Friday, February 12, 2021

Albright Orders Daily COVID-19 Tests At Intel Patent Trial
Western District of Texas Judge Alan Albright on Wednesday outlined the pandemic safety protocols he has set for an in-person patent jury trial against Intel next week, including mandatory daily COVID-19 testing and a live feed to limit the number of people in the courthouse.

LA Judge Sued Over ‘Super-Spreader’ Hearings Amid Virus
Five nonprofit legal service organizations sued the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s presiding judge Tuesday, claiming he’s violating the state constitutional rights of attorneys and litigants by requiring them to appear in person for traffic and eviction hearings when the county is the “epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Calif. Judge Tells DLA Atty On Zoom: ‘At Least Have A Tie On’
A California federal judge called out a DLA Piper attorney Thursday for not wearing a tie during a virtual hearing on Finisar’s $6.8 million securities settlement, saying male attorneys have taken the informality of COVID-19-era remote hearings too far while joking, “At least there’s not cats on the screen.”

I’m Not A Cat,’ Atty Assures Judge Amid Zoom Filter Mishap Law360 Video
A Texas attorney went viral Tuesday after he logged into a Zoom state court hearing unknowingly sporting a cat filter as he geared up to represent Presidio County in civil forfeiture proceedings, then assured the judge he was ready to carry on despite his feline facade.

DLA Piper Lengthens Managing Partner Term, Citing COVID-19DL
A Piper has extended the current term of its global co-CEO and managing partner by two years through 2024 in a bid to provide “surety” for the firm and its clients, the firm announced Monday.

Weber Gallagher Chief On Remote Work, Virus Suit Trends
Weber Gallagher Chair Andy Indeck recently spoke to Law360 about how his firm has been adapting to remote work and where he expects to see litigation spikes for companies and health care providers in 2021 as the country continues to grapple with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

LSC Asks Congress To Fund Free Legal Aid Amid Pandemic
The Legal Services Corporation is asking Congress to earmark up to half a billion dollars to keep funding free civil legal aid to low-income Americans in a time when legal assistance is badly needed to weather the impact of the pandemic, the nonprofit said Tuesday.


Coronavirus: The Latest Court Closures And Restrictions
UPDATED Feb. 11, 2021, 3:30 PM EST | As courts across the country take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some are restricting access and altering their procedures. Click state or court to jump to section. » indicates updated entry

Miami-Dade County Courts To Resume Jury Trials In March
Jury trials in Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit are set to resume March 1, Chief Judge Bertila Soto announced on Wednesday, ending a monthslong suspension in the Miami-Dade County courts.

NJ Attys Worried About Fairness Of Mandatory Virtual Trials
Litigants will soon be forced to bring their suits before Garden State juries in virtual settings fraught with potential distractions, technical glitches and challenges to presenting evidence, raising concerns about them getting a fair day in court as state judiciary officials strive to move cases amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Next SDNY White Collar Trial Before, You Guessed It, Rakoff
Federal judges in the Southern District of New York are on track to bring back juries as rates of COVID-19 infection fall across the Empire State, with Manhattan U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff set to oversee the district’s first white collar criminal trial since one in November that he also handled.


Coronavirus Litigation: The Week In Review
Medline Industries says it was scammed in a purchase of more than $15 million worth of personal protective equipment, Carnival has escaped some claims by cruise passengers who were allegedly exposed to COVID-19, and In-N-Out’s insurer argues it’s not on the hook for hundreds of millions in business interruption coverage.

Coronavirus Regulations: A State-By-State Week In Review 
States made strides in the past week to expand COVID-19 vaccination access to a wider swath of the public, resulting in more community vaccination sites in California, an enhanced mobile immunization effort in rural Texas and a program in Florida designed to make homebound Holocaust survivors eligible for vaccine delivery.

Pandemic Causing Dip In Patent Filings, USPTO Says
The number of patent applications being filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the drop shouldn’t have a detrimental effect on the agency’s finances, USPTO officials said at a meeting Thursday.

Employment Cases Rebound After 6-Month Lag
New employment suits in federal courts started falling off in May 2020, but a rise in pandemic-related cases fueled a surge in the final two months of the year, according to a Lex Machina report released Thursday.

Lottery Winners, DOJ Trade Shots In Visa-Expiration Fight
Lawyers for thousands of immigrants challenging Trump-era COVID-19 travel bans told a D.C. federal judge Wednesday that the Biden administration is taking too long to reach a deal that will allow their clients into the country before the visas, awarded to winners of a government lottery, expire.

Teva ‘Not Optimistic’ About Sealing $23B Opioid Deal Soon
Teva Pharmaceuticals probably won’t finalize a major opioid settlement until the coronavirus pandemic abates and allows for the resumption of courtroom trials that tend to bring litigants to the negotiating table, the drugmaker’s chief executive said Wednesday.

IRS Not Planning To Extend Tax Filing Deadline, Official Says
Even though the Internal Revenue Service delayed the start of the tax season until February, the agency is not planning to extend the tax filing deadline beyond April 15, an official said Thursday.

Pandemic Delays WTO Rulings On Trump Security Tariffs
A World Trade Organization panel overseeing numerous challenges to the Trump administration’s national security duties on steel and aluminum is delaying final rulings until the second half of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NYC Anti-Eviction Forms Slow To Roll In, Stirring Unease
New York City housing courts say they have received fewer than 2,300 forms from tenants seeking to pause or prevent eviction cases until May 1, frustrating advocates and attorneys more than halfway through a near-total statewide hold on evictions.

Judge Says Mich. Salon’s Virus Coverage Suit Can Proceed
A Michigan federal judge allowed a hair salon’s COVID-19 insurance suit to proceed, holding that while the policy’s virus exclusion bars business interruption coverage, the policy’s communicable disease provision may extend coverage for the salon’s losses.

Stalled NJ Bill Can’t Save Car Dealers’ Virus Coverage Suit
New Jersey’s top federal judge has said an insurance policy’s virus exclusion barred a group of car dealerships from obtaining coverage from Zurich American Insurance Co. for losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, rejecting the dealers’ argument that the provision is contrary to Garden State public policy.

Insurer, Brokers Prevail In Cinema’s COVID-19 Coverage SuitA New York state judge has ruled that a Great American Insurance unit doesn’t have to cover a movie theater’s losses due to COVID-19 shutdown orders, while also dismissing the theater’s claim that its insurance brokers negligently purchased it a policy with insufficient coverage.


Let’s Emerge From The Pandemic As Legal Innovators
The pandemic forced a digital reckoning on the legal profession — which switched to remote workforces, paperless workflows and digital signatures seemingly overnight — and law firms and corporate legal departments can keep up the innovation momentum with three guiding principles, says Kevin Clem at HBR Consulting.

Data Compliance Issues For Cos. Making, Using Vaccine Apps
To manage privacy concerns with COVID-19 vaccine verification tools, developers should look to the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practice Principles to build secure applications consistent with U.S. privacy laws, and employers should ensure that notice, recordkeeping and retention requirements are in place, say attorneys at Troutman Pepper.

Takeaways From Early NY Tuition Refund Rulings
As students seek tuition reimbursement for college closings due to the pandemic, three recent decisions from New York’s federal courts illuminate the statements and conduct that that may or may not create a binding obligation to provide in-person instruction, say Muhammad Faridi and Timothy Smith at Patterson Belknap.

Cos. Should Keep A Close Watch On SIGPR Enforcement
The special inspector general for pandemic recovery is enlisting help from other agencies to broadly exercise its enforcement mandate, and there is no better time than now for companies to ensure they are documenting use of relief funds, particularly if they borrowed from more than one program, say attorneys at Cadwalader.
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