Civil Litigation

The federal government acted swiftly in passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), including the Payroll Protection Program (“PPP”) component, to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the quick action by the government has put money quickly into the hands of small businesses, the government agency responsible for implementing this massive new program, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”), has had to play catch-up to issue guidance and rules to fully implement it. This Legal Update provides considerations related to the receipt of federal funds, which may be particularly useful to those borrowers…
Gov. Evers announced a new $75 million grant program for small businesses that will provide $2,500 grants to assist with the costs of business interruption, health and safety improvements, salaries, rent, mortgages, or inventory. The grants will be available to businesses impacted by COVID-19 with 20 or fewer full-time employees who have not already received COVID-19 assistance from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The grant program will be administered by the WEDC as part of its its “We’re All In” initiative, and will begin taking applications in June. Grant recipients will also commit to using safety protocols for their…
For the last dozen or more jury trials I have had, there comes an inevitable moment where opposing counsel crosses the line of permissible voir dire, and starts to “try his/her case” through the jury panel. If it happened half the time it might be one thing. But it happens in literally every case I try. After asking if anyone thinks there are too many lawsuits or whether all chiropractors are inept (proper voir dire), counsel inevitably asks the jurors whether anyone thinks it is important for bus drivers to follow safety rules (or some variant of that question if…
On April 23, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provided borrowers that received Paycheck Protection Program loans until May 7, 2020 to reassess whether they had a good faith basis to certify that “the uncertainty of current economic conditions makes necessary the loan request to support ongoing operations of the eligible recipient.” On May 5, 2020, the SBA extended that deadline to May 15, 2020. Along with setting the deadline, the SBA promised additional guidance prior to borrowers needing to make a final decision on potentially returning proceeds received. On May 13, 2020, the SBA provided that guidance in the…
As an increasing number of states “flatten the curve” and increase capacity for testing, businesses must prepare for the loosening and lifting of the various state and local “Stay at Home” or “Safer at Home” orders. These orders, which have restricted the activity of businesses across the country, are likely to have lasting impacts on the workplace and businesses should expect the possibility of a phased return to normal business operations. Now is the time to develop a plan for reopening with an eye toward an eventual return to normalcy, or what may be a new version of normalcy. Full…
As General Counsel for the Wisconsin Counties Association, von Briesen provided a briefing to county officials on how local governments can apply for reimbursement from FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program for emergency expenses related to the COVID-19 national emergency. The slides are available here. For more information, please contact a member of our Government Law Group.…
This Legal Update follows our earlier updates entitled CARES Act Programs for Businesses Too Large for the Paycheck Protection Program and New Detail Available Regarding Main Street Loan Facilities. After receiving feedback from the public, the Federal Reserve has released revised term sheets for its Main Street Lending Program. With the revisions, the Federal Reserve hopes to expand eligibility and fill some of the gaps present in the original term sheets. This Legal Update discusses the revised terms sheets. For other resources on the different aspects of the CARES Act, please see the COVID-19 von Briesen Task Force Resource
On Friday, May 1, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) filled in a gap left by the Coronavirus Aid and Relief Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) by issuing Notice 2020-32 (the “Notice”). The Notice provides that businesses will not be able to claim a deduction for expenses paid with Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan proceeds to the extent that the loan is forgiven. Section 1106 of the CARES Act provides that a business receiving a PPP loan can have the principal amount of the loan forgiven in an amount equal to the payroll costs, mortgage interest payments, rent and utilities paid…
On April 16, 2020, Governor Evers extended the State’s Emergency Safer At Home Order through May 26, 2020, and shut public schools down for the remainder of the academic year. Now that school districts have clarity on the fate of the school year, administrators are seeking counsel on steps that they can take to cut costs while retaining quality employees. This FAQ explores several of those questions, particularly as they relate to Unemployment Compensation (“UC”) benefits and continuation of health care and retirement benefits. Q: If a school district temporarily lays-off or furloughs employees for the duration of the current…
In a victory for counties across Wisconsin, the Brown County Circuit Court recently issued a decision upholding Brown County’s 2018 imposition of a county sales and use tax. The Court’s decision follows years of litigation between Brown County and the Brown County Taxpayers Association (“BCTA”). BCTA claimed that the County’s ordinance violated the requirements of the county sales and use tax authorizing statute (the “Sales Tax Statute”)1 because it failed to provide that the revenues from the tax would provide a direct dollar-for-dollar offset against the County’s property tax levy. The Court concluded, consistent with Brown County’s position, that BCTA’s…
When large, publicly traded companies received multi-million dollar loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, the public began to take notice. Shortly after Shake Shack’s receipt of $10,000,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program (the maximum loan amount), Shake Shack announced it was giving the loan back. Why? The issue was whether Shake Shack, and similarly situated large public companies, could validly certify “that the uncertainty of current economic conditions makes necessary the loan request to support ongoing operations of the eligible recipient.” All applicants for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program made that certification. The question now is whether they…
On April 22, 2020, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals (District II) affirmed a Waukesha County Circuit Court holding that barred a subcontractor’s negligence claim against another subcontractor, both of whom entered into separate subcontracts with the general contractor for a project, under the economic loss doctrine. In Mechanical v. Venture Electrical Contractors, Inc., 2018AP2380 (recommended for publication), Mechanical and Venture had separate subcontracts with the general contractor to provide HVAC and electrical work, respectively, for a $36 million addition of a research laboratory to the owner’s building. Both of the subcontracts incorporated the terms of the Contract between the owner…
Imagine this hypothetical scenario: You consult with a new client for a civil matter. The law on this matter is not complicated. You have done the legal research beforehand, and you correctly identify several legal issues as the client is telling you their story. Based on what the client is telling you, you believe that the client may have a good case that would entitle them to money damages. The client is very pleased with how the consultation went, and they sign a fee agreement with you in short order. You know that the applicable statute of limitation puts the…
On April 14, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued its interim final rules regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), a $350 billion part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES Act”), to sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals. Four days earlier the PPP loan application process opened for this group of applicants. These interim rules provide information for sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals who are seeking a PPP loan. For other resources on the different aspects of the CARES Act, please see our COVID-19 von Briesen Task Force Resource Page.…
On Thursday, April 16, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued Emergency Order #28 that is effective at 8:00 a.m. on April 24 and will stay in effect until 8:00 a.m. on May 26. Much of the new Order remains the same as Order #12 which is currently in effect with respect to the remodeling industry and will stay in effect until April 24 when the new Order serves as its replacement. However, there are a number of new provisions that potentially affect the industry and could potentially create confusion. As such, it is very likely that there will be considerable commentary…