On Friday, May 22, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released two new Interim Final Rules (collectively, the Rules) governing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans: (1) the Loan Forgiveness Requirements (Forgiveness Rule) and (2) the SBA Loan Review Procedures and Related Borrower and Lender Responsibilities (Lender Responsibility Rule). These Rules provide lenders of PPP loans (Lenders) some of the first clear answers on their responsibilities with respect to processing PPP Loan Forgiveness Applications, and it is fair to say that those responsibilities likely exceeded what many Lenders expected, much less desired. This memorandum summarizes the requirements and procedures the new Rules place on Lenders for reviewing PPP loans and Loan Forgiveness Applications, and suggests some unanswered questions raised by them.
On May 14, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the request by the Nasdaq Stock Market (NASDAQ) to delay until September 1, 2020, the implementation of a recently adopted rule that will accelerate the delisting process for listed companies (i) with securities in a minimum bid price compliance period (as described below) with bid prices at or below $0.10 or (ii) that have fallen below the minimum bid price after completing one or more reverse stock splits with a ratio of 250 shares (or more) to one over the prior two years.
NASDAQ’s continued listing rules require that a company’s listed equity securities maintain a minimum closing bid price of at least $1.00 per share. A NASDAQ-listed company is noncompliant with this listing standard when the bid price for its listed security closes below $1.00 for 30 consecutive business days. Generally, after becoming noncompliant, a NASDAQ-listed company has a period during which it can regain compliance.
In accordance with emergency powers granted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance temporarily extending a number of benefit plan-related deadlines and providing other relief for participants and plan sponsors having difficulty complying with these requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a summary of the guidance, which is posted in the Employee Benefits Resources Section.
DOL and IRS Final Rule
The May 4, 2020, Final Rule generally suspends certain benefit plan deadlines for the duration of the “Outbreak Period,” which is an open-ended period beginning March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the end of the COVID-19 national emergency. The relief under the Final Rule is generally aimed at participants and beneficiaries, and mostly affects group health plans.
On May 14, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) request to make additional temporary modifications to certain shareholder approval requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, which are similar to recent modifications made by the Nasdaq Stock Market (NASDAQ) (previously summarized here).
Together with the NYSE’s prior temporary relief (previously summarized here), these additional temporary modifications to the shareholder approval requirements are intended to enhance NYSE-listed companies’ access to capital during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NYSE’s and the NASDAQ’s temporary relief from the shareholder approval requirements are now closely aligned through June 30, 2020.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) presents various risks to banks, including litigation from customers, prospective customers, and third parties, as well as enforcement actions from the government and bank regulatory agencies.
An analysis of the several dozen lawsuits filed in the months after the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act reveals that PPP litigation is trending in five preliminary categories: PPP eligibility restrictions, PPP loan prioritization, agent fees, default on debt, and False Claims Act, each detailed below with other litigation risks.
The PPP also presents regulatory risk to banks, including but not limited to nonpayment of guarantee by the US Small Business Administration (SBA), fair lending risk, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance risk, and PPP compliance risk, each detailed below.
In response to the reopening of many parts of the country, OSHA plans to operate within the following framework:
- In areas where community spread of COVID-19 has significantly decreased, OSHA will return to its regular
On May 19, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its policy for when employers have to record COVID-19 cases in their injury and illness logs.
Under the revised policy, employers who are otherwise required to keep OSHA logs must make a determination as to whether workers’ COVID-19 cases are job-related. Previously, OSHA took the position that only healthcare employers, corrections facilities, and emergency-response providers were required to make that determination.
In our previous article “COVID-19 and the Shipowner’s Legal Obligations,” published in The Maritime Executive, and through our participation in a Zoom webinar on potential vessel operator liabilities hosted in conjunction with Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association, we discussed the standard of reasonable care owed under the Jones Act and an employer’s obligation to provide a reasonably safe place to work. An owner has a duty to provide a seaworthy vessel under the General Maritime Law.
Recently, a COVID-19-related wrongful death lawsuit was filed against a vessel owner/Jones Act employer in the Eastern District of Louisiana titled, Kathy Norwood v. Rodi Marine LLC, et al., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-01404. This case has been assigned to Judge Eldon Fallon and will test the legal obligations owed by vessel owners.
Companies and organizations worldwide are facing a difficult question: As the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic shifts gears from emergency to maintenance, how can we reopen and run our businesses — from Day One and beyond — in a manner that preserves jobs and generates revenue without risking the health and safety of our employees and customers? The answers to this question are not simple, nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Back-to-Work Toolkit: Helping Businesses Protect Lives and Livelihoods
On May 15, 2020, the Mississippi Gaming Commission issued its Order Authorizing Reopening (authorizing the reopening of Mississippi casino properties at 8:00 a.m., on Thursday, May 21, 2020) under the limitations described in Industry Letter 2020-01.