Around the time that much of the United States was beginning to shut down in response to COVID-19, President Trump nominated Dr. Nancy B. Beck for Commissioner and Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A review of Dr. Beck’s education and background shows that the vast majority of her career – over 15 years – has been spent in public service. Yet Dr. Beck’s nomination has been met with criticism of her roughly five years as a Director at the American Chemistry Council (ACC). For instance, the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a press release which highlighted Dr. Beck’s time at the ACC and claimed that Dr. Beck was “doing the bidding of the chemical industry at the expense of the health and safety of the American public.” Likewise, the Washington Post and New York Times headlined articles about Dr. Beck with a description of her as a “chemical industry executive.” While it may be expected that Dr. Beck’s detractors would focus on her time at the ACC, media characterizations of her as a “chemical industry executive” do not accurately describe the whole of her professional efforts.

Continue Reading Early Criticism of President’s Nominee for CPSC Chair Neglects Much of Beck’s Education and Background

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) was recently passed to provide economic relief to small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Due to the number of businesses that applied for aid, funding for the CARES Act was quickly depleted. On April 24, 2020, President Trump signed into law an amendment to the CARES Act providing additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) grants and loans. The amendment increased the appropriation level for PPP by $321.335 billion (which includes an additional $310 billion for PPP loans, and $11.335 billion for administrative fees) and authorized an additional $10 billion for emergency EIDL grants and $50 billion for EIDL loans. As before, both the PPP and EIDL funds are available on a first-come, first serve-basis. Consequently, eligible businesses that are interested in benefiting from these programs are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as funds from this second round are also expected to be exhausted quickly.

To assist you in your application process, we have prepared a brief overview of the eligibility requirements, terms and application procedures for the PPP and EIDL loan programs. If you have any additional questions please visit the Husch Blackwell CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions page or contact a member of the Cortex Team.

Continue Reading Additional Funding Now Available for Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Mallet, legal code and scales of justice. Law concept, studio shotsLitigators have closely followed a recent decision that has provided needed guidance and has reshaped how asbestos liabilities are apportioned in strict liability cases. On February 19, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Roverano, et al., v. John Crane, Inc., et al., 6 EAP 2018 (Pa. Feb. 19, 2020), which held that in strict liability asbestos cases, damages are to be split per capita among remaining defendants, and that the Fair Share Act under 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102 does not require percentage apportionment of liability in strict liability cases. The decision further held that bankruptcy trusts may be included on the verdict sheet to bring more parties to the table for the purpose of apportioning liability only.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Rejects Fair Apportionment of Liability Among Strictly Liable Defendants Under the Fair Share Act

On January 21, 2020, the Fourth District Appellate Court reversed a $3.2 million asbestos jury verdict, holding Tremco, Incorporated (Tremco) was entitled to judgment notwithstanding the verdict where Plaintiff presented insufficient evidence of causation. Krumwiede v. Tremco, Inc., 2020 IL App (4th) 180434.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Appellate Court Overturns Asbestos Jury Verdict Based on Insufficient Evidence of Causation

On January 3, 2020, in Mary Ellerbrock, Individually, and as Special Administrator of the Estate of Alex Kaszynski, Deceased, v. A.O. Smith Corp., et. al. (case No. 18-L-1434), the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Madison County, IL, denied defendant PW Power Systems’ (“PW”) motion to transfer based on forum non conveniens. In this asbestos case, premises Defendant PW sought to have the case moved from Madison County, IL to LaSalle County, IL. In denying PW’s motion, the Court referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in Fennell v. Illinois Central R.R. Co., emphasizing “[t]he defendant must show that the plaintiff’s chosen forum is inconvenient to the defendant and that another forum is more convenient to all parties.” 2012 IL 113812, ¶ 6. The Court’s reliance on Fennell for support that all defendants must join the motion is misplaced given that Fennell involved only one defendant.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Madison County Court Denies Intrastate Motion to Transfer Based on <I>Forum Non Conveniens</I>

Many business operations affected heavily by environmental regulations are considered “essential” and are up and running to ensure our country has the products and services it needs to respond to the COVID-19 emergency.  We are hearing that these businesses are straining under the pressure to maintain social distancing requirements, quarantine individuals exposed to the virus, sustain operations with reduced personnel, protect their personnel, and preserve their supply chain resources.  Although all companies understand the need to protect human health and the environment, it may be impossible to meet every deadline, take every reading, and make every inspection during this emergency.

Recognizing this reality, many Federal and state agencies are issuing enforcement relief and response policies providing guidance on how to respond if environmental or other regulatory requirements can’t be met.  Husch Blackwell has gathered Federal and state COVID-19 enforcement relief and response policies for environmental and motor carrier safety regulations.  A complete list of these policies is posted as a resource on our website.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Enforcement Relief and Response Policies

At Husch Blackwell we understand the financial hardships our startup clients are facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know you are facing challenges in your business and would like to recommend that you take a moment to review the questions below as you plan the next steps your startup should take.

Is Your Business is Essential?

As states issue shelter at home orders, businesses deemed non-essential are closing. While guidance varies by state, there are often exemptions for specific essential businesses or those industries supporting essential businesses. If you qualify, you may need to take some steps to confirm your company may remain operational under an exemption and get your workers the proper paperwork to explain why they are out on the streets. You can find the latest guidance for your state at Husch Blackwell’s COVID-19 State-by-State Guidance Resource Center. One of our attorneys can help you to determine and draft any additional documentation needed to support that you are running an essential business.

Is Your Business Eligible for the CARES Act SBA Loan Program?

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the U.S. government to respond with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest economic stimulus plan in history. Continue Reading 4 Questions for Startups Following COVID-19 Business Disruptions

On December 19, 2019, the First District issued its opinion in Daniels v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., affirming a $6 million verdict for the estate of Patrick O’Reilly, a union pipefitter from 1957 to 1998 who passed away from mesothelioma in April of 2017. 2019 IL App (1st) 190170 (formerly Daniels v. John Crane, Inc.). John Crane was the only defendant left when the jury verdict was reached, subjecting it to a nearly $5 million liability after set-offs were subtracted. After its motion for a new trial was denied, John Crane appealed arguing the trial erred in denying its post-trial motion because the  court: (1) allowed Plaintiff’s medical expert, Dr. Abraham, to testify that the cumulative dose of Plaintiff’s exposure to all products caused his injury; (2) provided inaccurate jury instructions regarding proximate cause and the state of the art defense in asbestos cases; (3) failed to include four settled defendants on the jury form; and (4) did not properly analyze certain settlement agreements prior to making good faith findings. The appellate court ultimately affirmed the judgment of the circuit court. Below is a brief analysis on each of the issues on appeal.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: $6 Million Verdict Affirmed by Illinois Appellate Court in Mesothelioma Case

Multiple state governors have issued orders for their residents to shelter at home and for non-essential businesses to close. We expect this to occur in most other states, if not all, in the near term. Although the directives vary from state to state, there is a focus on keeping “essential” businesses and functions operational. How do we know what businesses and services are “essential”?

That question is likely to be up for significant debate; however, guidance has been offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).  Christopher Krebs, Director of CISA, announced in a memorandum that CISA, in collaboration with other federal agencies and the private sector, have developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” This list is designed to assist state, local and tribal officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.  Continue Reading As Shelter-in-Place Orders Spread, What Businesses are Essential?

Due to its suddenness and severity, overnight the COVID-19 outbreak has rearranged the priorities of corporate legal departments. Things that were of top-of-list importance yesterday have likely been replaced by action items that were inconceivable just a few weeks ago. Additionally, the “all-hands-on-deck” approach to managing the crisis is likely to last for some time and perhaps longer than any of us could have imagined. There are going to be many legal issues of great strategic importance that simply won’t receive the attention they require; likewise, there will be day-to-day issues that could also be overlooked. Environmental monitoring and reporting requirements could be among those. Continue Reading Environmental Compliance During COVID-19 Business Disruption