On Thursday, June 15, the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) experienced a data security breach resulting in the loss of the personal information of potentially millions of Louisianans due to a global cyberattack involving the exploitation by hackers of a vulnerability in MOVEit Transfer, an electronic file transfer tool developed by Progress Software. In a press release, the OMV announced that it suspects the personal data of all individuals who possess a Louisiana state-issued driver’s license, ID, or car registration may have been exposed to the criminal cyber attackers, a ransomware gang known as “Clop.”

Continue Reading Louisiana OMV Data Breach – How Should You Respond?

As they weather this year’s storm season, many businesses will experience property damage, often accompanied by business income losses. Most commercial general liability policies will provide business interruption coverage and extra expense insurance as an adjunct to property coverage. However, the complexity of a business interruption claim coupled with a pressing need for operating capital often combine to create a difficult scenario for business owners in these situations.

Cove Geary and Tyler Rench authored the article “Best Practices for Preparing a Business Interruption Claim,” featured in Risk Management Magazine highlighting some recommended industry “best practices” that can help smooth the business interruption insurance claims process and maximize recovery.

Click here to learn some industry best practices that can help smooth the business interruption insurance claims process and maximize recovery.

The 2022 Hurricane Season begins June 1st and continues through November 30th. For those in the maritime industry, it is strongly encouraged to review your existing hurricane plan or develop a plan if one is not already in place. Having a plan in place not only helps companies to minimize risk, but it also gives vessel owners and operators the opportunity to be prepared to evacuate as necessary.

Click here for a recent MSIB released by the United States Coast Guard providing preparations for the 2022 hurricane season.

In the event a disaster does occur, members of our maritime emergency and casualty response team are always on call to respond to and investigate any type of incident.

In a 2–1 decision, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the stay that had prevented implementation of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring COVID-19 vaccination or testing. Within hours of that decision, numerous emergency appeals were filed with the US Supreme Court asking that the stay be put back in place pending Supreme Court review. Justice Kavanaugh set a deadline of 4 p.m. Dec. 30 for the Biden administration to respond to the appeals.

Continue Reading OSHA ETS ‘Vaccine or Test’ Mandate for Private Employers (100 or more employees) Is Back in Play

On December 7, 2021, the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for government contractors nationwide. The court held that President Biden’s executive order likely exceeded his authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. In his decision, Judge Baker stated the “direct impact” of President Biden’s executive order “goes beyond the administration and management of procurement and contracting; in its practical application … it operates as a regulation of public health.”[1] The injunction prevents enforcement of the vaccine mandate for prime contractors and subcontractors on all covered contracts “in any state or territory of the United States of America.” Continue Reading Federal Court Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Government Contractors

Yesterday, November 18, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation designed to give employees numerous COVID-19 vaccination exemptions to use to avoid any mandatory vaccination policy their employers seek to impose.  Specifically, private employers must grant exemptions for: health or religious concerns; pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy; past recovery from COVID-19; periodic testing or using PPE (i.e., masks).  The private employer would bear the costs of the periodic testing and/or PPE.

Employers who violate these laws could be fined.  Small businesses (defined as 99 employees or less) will face a $10,000 per employee violation. Medium and big businesses will face a $50,000 per employee violation. Government employers may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees.

The legislation can be accessed here: House Bill 1B (2021B) – The Florida Senate (flsenate.gov).  The law is effective as of November 18, 2021.

Yesterday, November, 17th, OSHA officially suspended all activities regarding the implementation and enforcement of the recent ETS establishing the COVID-19 vaccination/testing mandate for employers. OSHA did this in response to the current injunction and in recognition of the fact that the viability of the ETS will take some time to work its way through the court system and ultimately almost certainly before the US Supreme Court.

What’s the takeaway? For now, employers need not worry about the December 5, 2021 deadline (and likely the January 4, 2022 deadline as well). Employers are still free to act on their own but need not worry about complying with the OSHA ETS.

For more information on the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS, visit OSHA’s website.

Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its much-anticipated emergency temporary standard (ETS) addressing COVID-19 vaccination and testing. Unlike other OSHA standards that count employees on an “establishment” basis, the ETS covers any private employer with 100 or more employees across the entire company. This broad definition is much more inclusive and will affect many more employers than many previous OSHA standards. Part-time, full-time, and remote employees are all included in the count. The new ETS applies to all employers with 100 or more employees except for those covered by the Executive Order on Safer Federal Workforce Task Force COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors and those covered by the Healthcare ETS.

Continue Reading The Suspense is Over — OSHA Finally Releases its COVID Vaccination/Testing Rule — What it Means for You?

The Louisiana Insurance Commissioner has issued Rule 22 for Hurricane Ida which allows policyholders an opportunity to mediate disputes with underwriters for claims up to $50,000. This is a streamlined approach where each side submits a position paper and meets with an assigned mediator at no cost to the insured. Notice of this program and relevant information is available on the Louisiana Department of Insurance website here.

cargo boat
on blue sea near the coast
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Disputes arising in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) following Hurricane Ida can be subject to three bodies of law: maritime law, federal law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and state law, whether surrogate federal law under the OCSLA or within territorial waters. Jurisdiction for claims arising in the GOM is generally a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 subject to the saving to suitors clause in certain maritime-related claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1). Jurisdictional issues can be complicated and fact-based where maritime and non-maritime “services” are “mixed,” as discussed in Baker v. Hercules Offshore, Inc., 706 F.3d 680 (5th Cir. 2013).

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as defined, consists of submerged lands, subsoil, and seabed in a specified zone up to 200 or more nautical miles seaward of the adjacent states’ jurisdiction. The OCSLA, 43 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq., regulating OCS operations extends federal jurisdiction to OCS operations and resources under 43 U.S.C. § 1349(b). Likewise, the OCSLA extends the benefits conferred by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) to employees working on the OCS.

Continue Reading Offshore Jurisdictional Issue Primer