Vessels are vital for the movement of people and property (cargo) over inland waters, across blue water, and in support of offshore energy operations in post-Ida recovery. During post-Ida salvage and repair operations, vessels are necessary. Ida resulted in the destruction of terminals, docks, and platforms and also resulted in vessels “breaking away” from their moorings and sustaining heavy damages.

Vessels are hired, rented, or leased under the terms and conditions of charter parties and Master Service Agreements, which dictate the use, warranties, obligations, and allocation of risks between the parties. Understanding the basic structure of a vessel hire is important, just as when we rent a car or truck for personal or business purposes.

Continue Reading Charter Party and Service Agreements Will Lead the Way to Ida Recovery but Have Consequences

Following a major hurricane or other extreme weather event, vessel owners and operators may face liability for failure to perform their agreed contracts or for liability arising from an allision or collision. When such major hurricanes strike, to escape liability, vessel owners and operators may take advantage of two doctrines: (1) force majeure; and (2) the inevitable accident/ Act of God defense. Below we explain those doctrines and the burden of proof for each.

Continue Reading Hurricanes and Act of God Defenses

The IRS announced victims of Hurricane Ida now have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. This relief extends to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual or public assistance. This includes the entire state of Louisiana, and taxpayers in certain Ida-impacted localities designated by FEMA in neighboring states, including southern Mississippi, will also receive the same filing and payment relief.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Aug. 26, 2021, for Louisiana taxpayers, and Aug. 28, 2021, for certain Mississippi taxpayers. As a result of the relief, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file various tax returns and pay various taxes that were originally due during this period. This means individuals and businesses, who had a valid extension to file their 2020 federal income tax returns, will now have until Jan. 3, 2022, to file their 2020 federal income tax returns. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2020 returns were due earlier in 2021, those payments are not eligible for this relief.

Continue Reading Tax Relief Available to Victims of Hurricane Ida

Continue Reading Tips for Preparing a Business Interruption Claim

Released on July 29, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on return to work. This version has been revised to address an inconsistency for critical infrastructure employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 (the CDC has not updated that guidance since December). To make this section consistent with the CDC’s new guidance for vaccinated employees, that section now states that asymptomatic critical infrastructure employees can continue to work but, regardless of vaccination status, employees should be tested 3-5 days following the known exposure and should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. Unvaccinated employees should continue to mask and practice other precautions (e.g. social distancing) outdoors as well for 14 days or until a negative test result is received.

Continue Reading CDC Updates Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Employee Exposure

On July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for the employment setting for a fully vaccinated individual who is asymptomatic but was in close contact with someone with COVID-19. While isolation is still not recommended, the CDC now recommends that the individual get tested 3-5 days after the exposure and wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until a negative test is received. The key factor remains that the individual remains asymptomatic.

This updated guidance is outlined in the chart below which addresses return to work scenarios under the current CDC guidance.

*** as of 7/28/2021

Situation

CDC Guidance on Return to Work

Critical Infrastructure

Positive test and symptoms Symptom Based:

  • At least 10 days from the onset of symptoms
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications
  • Improvement in other symptoms

Test Based: If recommended by healthcare provider, 2 negative tests in a row taken at least 24 hours apart.

Vaccination status does not matter.

Sources:

No Change

No test or negative test and symptoms Symptom Based:

  • At least 10 days from the onset of symptoms
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications
  • Improvement in other symptoms

Test Based: If recommended by healthcare provider, 2 negative tests in a row taken at least 24 hours apart.

Vaccination status does not matter.

Sources:

No Change

Positive test without symptoms

Time Based: 10 days since positive test

Test Based: If recommended by healthcare provider, 2 negative tests in a row taken at least 24 hours apart.

Vaccination status does not matter.

Sources:

No Change

Exposed with symptoms Symptom Based:

  • At least 10 days from the onset of symptoms
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications
  • Improvement in other symptoms

Test Based: If recommended by healthcare provider, 2 negative tests in a row taken at least 24 hours apart.

Vaccination status does not matter.

Sources:

No Change

Exposed without symptoms

If in “close contact” with someone who has tested positive (defined as within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes over a 24 period starting from 2 days before illness onset or positive test), 10 days after exposure or 7 days after exposure if negative test is obtained (test can be taken within 48 hours of planned end of quarantine).

But no isolation needed if:

  • The individual has been fully vaccinated, or
  • The individual has a prior positive diagnosis within last 3 months and has no ongoing symptoms

However, fully vaccinated employees should be tested 3-5 days following the known exposure and should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Sources:

Can continue to work as long as they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are taken (e.g., mask for 14 days and social distancing)

But no additional precautions needed (as long as they remain asymptomatic) if

  • The individual has a prior positive diagnosis within last 3 months and has no ongoing symptoms

However, fully vaccinated employees should be tested 3-5 days following the known exposure and should wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

 

In a recent case, Judge Barry Ashe gave a thorough summary of the Louisiana law for claims against insurance brokers for failing to obtain coverage for COVID-19 government mandated shutdowns. B&P Rest. Grp., LLC v. Eagan Ins. Agency, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88330 (E.D. La. May 10, 2021).

The case is instructive for both insureds and brokers because it emphasizes the need for a clear statement by the insured of what coverage it is requesting and a clear statement by the broker of what coverage it has obtained.

Continue Reading Insurance Brokers and COVID-19 Shutdowns

As noted in our previous alerts regarding the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) COBRA subsidies and return to work issues, employers have until May 31, 2021, to notify “Assistance Eligible Individuals” of their potential right to subsidized COBRA coverage during the six-month period from April 1 to September 30, 2021 and potential right to enroll or re-enroll in COBRA coverage.

Continue Reading Reminder – ARPA COBRA Notice Deadline Approaching; IRS Provides Much-Needed Guidance

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently updated its COVID-19 response plan. Last year, OSHA focused much of its COVID-19 related attention on healthcare, elderly care, and prisons. This new Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 and National Emphasis Program — Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) guidance shifts its focus to other industries where OSHA feels there could be spread of COVID-19. As part of the guidance, OSHA specifically targeted full-service and limited-service restaurants for inspections.

Continue Reading Recent OSHA Update Targets Restaurant Industry