ShuffieldLowman COVID-19 Resources Center
During this stressful time, ShuffieldLowman is here to help clients navigate the changing legal terrain in a variety of aspects from new loan programs, employment law changes, tax breaks, and more. In an effort to simplify all of the new information out there and to guide our clients to helpful resources, we have created a COVID-19 Response Team who is closely monitoring these changes.
Below are areas of interest the firm is currently tracking, along with members of our the ShuffieldLowman COVID-19 Response Team who can assist you:
Without question, the most impactful change to employment law driven by the COVID-19 pandemic is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA was signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, after passing through the House and Senate with minor changes. The FFCRA becomes effective on April 2, 2020, and its requirements will sunset on December 31, 2020, unless extended or modified by subsequent litigation. The ShuffieldLowman employment law team is here to help your business navigate new employment protocols due to FFCRA updates such as the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
On March 20, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse, dollar-for-dollar, the cost of providing Coronavirus (COVID-19) related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”), signed into law on March 18, 2020. All employers with fewer than five hundred (500) employees may take advantage of these credits if the employers provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for employee’s family members. The IRS also extended the tax-filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, regardless of the amount owed without penalties and interest.
ShuffieldLowman’s Corporate and Tax team is here to help clients during this uncertain time. We can answer your questions, assist you in overcoming the current obstacles, and help navigate the proverbial waters of the new tax laws.
Primary Contacts: Daniel Harris & William Lowman
Loans & Financial Assistance Programs for Small Business:
UPDATE: Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 on June 3, 2020, and President Trump signed it into law on June 5, 2020. The Act made some key revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as provided further clarity for issues surrounding the forgiveness portion of the loan. CLICK HERE to learn about some of the significant amendments that businesses who applied and received PPP loans should now review and take into consideration.
Small businesses are now eligible to take advantage of loans or financial assistance to lessen the financial stress COVID-19 has caused to so many companies and individuals. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or CARES Act) was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, and provides for a substantial expansion of Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act for the period between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020 (the “covered period”). Other loan and financial assistance programs have also been made available for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the SBA Express Bridge Loan, the Florida Short Time Compensation Program for Employers, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act with more financial assistance opportunities waiting for final approval. ShuffieldLowman will also be tracking updates on the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Business Lending Program and how our clients can benefit from these programs. Our banking and finance team is continually monitoring financial assistance programs that could be of benefit to our clients during this financially trying time.
Primary Contacts: Lynne Wilson
Enforceability in Contracts (Force Majeure):
In these uncertain times, clients are wondering whether their contract may still be enforceable. Many contain “force majeure” clauses, which may provide sufficient basis to suspend performance under or terminate their contracts. Our team has conducted a detailed analysis of the applicability of “force majeure” clauses to healthcare crises and epidemics like COVID-19. Whether you are a landlord, tenant, property management company, or simply a party to a contract with a force majeure clause, we can help interpret the provisions in your situation to allow you to take the best possible position under your contract.
Guided by recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House, the state and local regulatory landscape with respect to managing the spread of COVID-19 changes almost daily. Several counties within the State of Florida have now imposed “stay at home” orders that restrict commerce, travel, and other activities within our communities. Our government and regulatory compliance experts are here to help governmental entities, businesses and individuals interpret recent laws, regulations, and orders relating to COVID-19.
Florida Court System:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Court System has decided the best course of action is to limit or postpone all non-essential court proceedings and have judges work remotely to the best of their ability. As a result, a majority of ongoing cases will inevitably encounter delays. There have also been orders issued by courts in Florida, as well as by the Governor, that limit the ability of parties to prosecute certain types of pending civil cases (and perhaps the ability to file new cases of those types) or to seek certain civil remedies. At ShuffieldLowman we are continuing business as usual filing documents necessary to begin and/or advance your case, except as prohibited by existing orders. We remain committed to prompt and ongoing client communication. We will continue to update this site with relevant future developments. Of course, you may continue to reach out to your ShuffieldLowman Attorney for more information at any time.
Residential community associations in Florida are experiencing numerous restrictions and a changing legal terrain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 2, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, issued Executive Order 20-94. EO 20-94 provided for a statewide halt on mortgage foreclosure causes of action as well as a statewide suspension against residential evictions based upon the non-payment of rent. EO 20-94 has had multiple extensions, but finally expired on September 30, 2020.
In addition, Florida Statute Sections 718.1265 and 720.316 provide condominium associations and homeowners’ associations, respectively, the right to exercise certain emergency powers “in response to damage caused by an event for which a state of emergency is declared.” The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (the “DBPR”) originally weighed in, through the entry of its own executive order (order 2020-04), to state that it believed the COVID-19 pandemic would constitute an “emergency”, at least for the purpose of allowing the exercise of some of those “emergency owners”. However, the DBPR has now issued a new order (order 2020-06) which terminates the provisions of its earlier order, effective June 1, 2020. Thus, the DBPR is apparently now choosing to remain neutral on the issue of whether COVID-19 has triggered an association’s right to use some or all of the enumerated “emergency powers”.
If you need assistance with either of these issues or have any other association law questions, our team is here to counsel and assist our association clients.
Primary Contact: Matt Firestone
Mergers & Acquisitions:
With the recent major economic disruptions that have occurred globally as a result of COVID-19, we are seeing unprecedented new issues arise in the context of mergers & acquisitions. While some deals are being put on hold as a result of market uncertainty, others are forging ahead with a renewed focus and perhaps altered deal terms. For deals under contract, we’re seeing “material adverse effect” clauses become more important than ever. Our M&A team can help navigate both sell-side and buy-side issues of business owners, privately-held companies, PE-backed portfolio companies, and others involved in an existing or potential M&A transaction.
Unprecedented times call for innovating new ways to satisfy the needs and desires of our clients and the public at large, while maintaining safety and health for all involved. Now more than ever, estate planning is an important consideration for all, and not having the proper documents in place can cause numerous critical issues for individuals and/or their families at an already difficult time. We have developed a protocol to safely abide by “social distancing” guidelines while still drafting and executing wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney and living wills. If you would like our estate planning team at any of our offices to assist you with getting these documents together, please give us a call, and we can walk you through how our updated estate planning process will work, while keeping your health and safety our top priority.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein provides an overview of developing and ongoing legislation and does not constitute legal advice for any particular situation.