The Richmond eminent domain plan has attracted a great deal of attention since the city first introduced it. Many approved of its purpose: to help the poor fight to keep their heads above water when their homes were so far underwater.

There are many, however, who do not share this sentiment. Banks and investors are concerned about the plan’s impact on the financial markets. Banks have alleged there could be financial losses exceeding $200 million.

How could such
Continue Reading Seizing Mortgages: The Impact on the Financial Markets

HEALTH AND WELFARE PLAN DEVELOPMENTSSupreme Court Holds States Not Prohibited from Banning or Regulating Abortion; Overrules Roe, Casey Precedent
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org., the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled prior precedent in Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood and held that states may regulate or prohibit access to abortion at any stage of pregnancy. The Court’s ruling specifies that the U.S. Constitution does not establish a right to abortion up to the point of fetal viability as previously set forth
Continue Reading Benefits Counselor – July 2022

The Florida legislature recently passed a new trust law that creates an exciting estate planning opportunity for married couples who are residents of Florida. The new law, effective July 1, 2022, allows one spouse (settlor-spouse) to create a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) for the benefit of the other spouse (beneficiary-spouse) and to preserve the ability to become a beneficiary of the SLAT following thebeneficiary-spouse’s death. This is a notable change for two reasons: first, because under current Florida
Continue Reading New Law Creates Estate Planning Opportunity for Florida Spouses

BENEFIT PLAN DEVELOPMENTSSixth Circuit Holds That Arbitration Mandates Not Enforceable Unless Included in Plan Document
In Hawkins v. Cintas Corporation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that an arbitration clause included in an individual employment agreement was insufficient to compel arbitration of class action claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The Sixth Circuit held that claims under ERISA “belong” to the plan and arbitration cannot be compelled without the plan’s consent. In
Continue Reading Benefits Counselor – June 2022

HEALTH PLAN DEVELOPMENTSNew Safe Harbor for Transparency In Coverage Rule’s In-Network Machine-Readable File
The Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (the Departments) recently announced a limited enforcement safe harbor for the in-network medical machine-readable file required under the Transparency in Coverage Final Rule (the Rule).
Under the Rule, non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering non-grandfathered coverage in the group and individual markets must disclose, on a public website, information regarding
Continue Reading Benefits Counselor – May 2022

The Florida legislature has passed Florida HB7, the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” (the Act), which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 22, 2022. The Act places limitations on what employers may teach during workplace diversity training. It is the first law of its kind in the nation.
What the Act Does
The Act makes it unlawful for Florida employers with 15 or more employees to subject any individual, as a condition of employment, to workplace training, instruction or
Continue Reading Florida’s “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” Will Change Employer’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

On August 14, 1945, Life magazine photojournalist, Alfred Eisenstaedt, captured the spirit of the nation in his photo of a sailor embracing a nurse in New York’s Times Square. It was the end of World War II, and America was at the top of its game. Although the US had been late to enter the war, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, it was all-hands-on-deck. In his best-selling book, Tom Brokaw described the veterans and
Continue Reading The Great Wealth Transfer and Its Implications on Estate, Trust, and Probate Litigation

RETIREMENT PLAN DEVELOPMENTSIRS Publishes Proposed Regulations Regarding Required Minimum Distributions
On February 24, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published proposed regulations addressing the calculation and payment of required minimum distributions (RMDs) under qualified retirement plans (the Proposed Regulations). The Proposed Regulations are generally designed to address the changes to a participant’s required beginning date and payment of death benefits enacted under the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the SECURE Act). While the proposed regulations are
Continue Reading Benefits Counselor – March 2022

What a past year for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its False Claims Act (FCA) settlements and judgments.

In February 2022, the DOJ released a statement detailing the efforts by the agency for fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021), including the recoupment of more than $5.6 billion from civil FCA claims – making this the second largest annual total to date and the largest since fiscal year 2014.

Out of the $5.6 billion, over $5 billion related to
Continue Reading False Claims Act: Department of Justice Recoups Second Highest Total in Claims in 2021

Welcome back to the world of Secured Transactions and IP! A quick refresher from last week (link last week’s post?): lenders engage in “secured transactions” with a borrower who has put up collateral against that loan which has become enforceable. The lender can possess and sell that collateral if the borrower defaults should that lender have the highest priority on the collateral. The question we left off with last week was how to properly establish that highest priority, primarily
Continue Reading How to Protect a Trademark as Collateral on a Loan (Part 2)

In a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the court explained how an employer should evaluate whether a disabled person under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would pose a “direct threat” to others.Background
Russell Pontinen, the plaintiff, suffered from a seizure disorder that caused three or four seizures in his lifetime. He started taking medication to control the seizures, but later stopped against his doctor’s advice.
Shortly afterwards, he applied for a
Continue Reading Court Finds an Employee’s Seizures Posed a “Direct Threat” Under the ADA

In 2017, the #MeToo movement exploded into the legal and political worlds, following high-profile allegations of sexual harassment. Five years later, it has led to bipartisan support of one of the most significant legislative changes in arbitration law since the Federal Arbitration Act was first enacted in 1925.The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4445, the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act,” on February 7, 2022; the Senate subsequently approved the legislation on February 10,
Continue Reading Mandatory Arbitration Will No Longer Be Enforceable Against Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Claims

In response to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security implemented sanctions against Russia, effective February 24, 2022, under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). These sanctions include new license requirements, a new license review policy, restricting license exceptions, new foreign direct product (FDP) rules and additions to the Entity List, among many others. These measures aim to restrict access to technology and software designed and produced in and outside the United
Continue Reading U.S. Department of Commerce Implements Sanctions Against Russia

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) took action on three proposed PFAS rules at its meeting on Wednesday, February 23. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource (DNR) proposed rules that would set standards for the two most studied PFAS compounds – PFOA and PFOS – in groundwater, drinking water and surface water.

The Groundwater rule, which proposed a 20 parts per trillion (ppt) combined standard for PFOA and PFOS, as well as limits for 14 other substances, failed to
Continue Reading Natural Resources Board Rejects PFAS Groundwater Standards, Moves Drinking Water and Surface Water Standards Forward

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will once again be utilizing an internet-based electronic registration and lottery process for employers seeking to file H-1B petitions for beneficiaries that are required to be counted under the annual allocation of new H-1B slots.An H‑1B cap slot must be obtained for a foreign worker to engage in “new” H‑1B employment. “New” H‑1B employment generally refers to H‑1B petitions that are filed for foreign nationals who are not currently in H‑1B status. When
Continue Reading Registration for H-1B Slots Starts March 1, 2022

GENERAL DEVELOPMENTSDOL, IRS and PBGC Release 2021 Finalized Form 5500 Instructions
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have released instructions for plans and administrators to complete annual Form 5500s. The instructions include changes that the DOL has finalized reflecting provisions of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act that relate to filings by multiple employer plans (MEP) and pooled employer plans (PEP). Key changes include:

  • Both defined contribution

Continue Reading Benefits Counselor – January 2022