Shutts & Bowen COVID-19 Response Team
Shutts & Bowen has created a firmwide, multidisciplinary COVID-19 Response Team dedicated to assisting clients with navigating the legal issues arising from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In this rapidly evolving worldwide health crisis, Shutts & Bowen will provide clients with timely legal guidance and other resources needed to respond quickly to the immediate challenges impacting their organizations.
Shutts & Bowen’s COVID-19 Response Team leverages the firm's deep bench of approximately 300 attorneys across 8 offices throughout Florida. Their practices span the entirety of the firm’s practice areas, including hospitality; legislative affairs; government contracts; labor and employment; creditors rights and bankruptcy; tax; financial services; insurance; and many more.
From the onset of the pandemic, Shutts & Bowen’s attorneys have been assisting their clients with strategic legal guidance and timely counsel on the legal issues surrounding COVID-19. As business leaders face difficult decisions that will have serious ramifications for their employees, customers, and communities, the COVID-19 Response Team will help its clients with creative solutions to manage immediate concerns as well as long-term planning services.
For inquiries to the COVID-19 Response Team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 Response Team Members:
- Alexander I. Tachmes (Hospitality)
- Matthew R. Chait (Real Estate Litigation)
- Logan E. Gans (Tax)
- Jason Gonzalez (Legislative)
- J. Gregory Humphries (Corporate)
- R. Alan Higbee (Government Contracts)
- Mary Ruth Houston (Labor & Employment)
- Lee D. Mackson (Creditors’ Rights & Bankruptcy)
- John E. Meagher (Insurance)
- Francis E. Rodriguez (Tax)
- Bryan Wells (Financial Services)
- Russell P. Hintze (Tax)
- Adam Woodruff (SBA Loans and other lending work)
- Timothy Woodward (Construction)
- WEBINAR (6.10.2020) - Frank Zacherl to Discuss How COVID-19 is Impacting Insurance Claims
- Patent and Trademark Deadlines Further Extended Due to the COVID-19 Crisis
- Avoid Becoming an Unwary Creditor in Your Business Partner's Bankruptcy Proceeding
- Avoiding Potential Liability Exposure as Businesses Reopen
- Tolling and Extensions of Permits and Other Authorizations - May 19, 2020
- Payment Protection Program: What Borrowers Can Do Now to Prepare for Review - May 14, 2020
- My Deceased Loved One Received a Stimulus Check. Can I Keep It?
- Contactless Closings During Coronavirus - FAQs
- Arising Antitrust Issues Amid COVID-19
- Does the COVID Crisis Warrant Ex Parte Relief to Address Price Gouging Under Trademark Theories?
- The Effect of COVID-19 Orders on Private Property Rights
- Patent and Trademark Right Deadlines Further Extended Due to COVID-19 Crisis
- Updated CARES Act Legislation - April 28, 2020
- SBA EIDL Chart - April 24, 2020
- EEOC's Updated Technical Assistance Q&A Guidance - COVID-19 and the ADA
- 50 Shades of Construction: What Is and Isn't "Essential" Construction Might Be a Little More Gray Than You Think
- Employer Insights: Updated Guidance on Return-To-Work Standards, Confidentiality and ADA Accommodations
- Hotel, Restaurants and Bars: What is Expected When Restrictions are Lifted
- Grow Your 2020 Charitable Giving: Increased Deductions Under The CARES Act
- Unprecedented Effects: How the Hospitality Industry will Recover
- Garnishment of Economic Impact Payments Under the CARES Act
- SHUTTS MEMORANDUM: HHS CARES Act Relief Funds – April 17, 2020
- Notice 2020-23 Expands COVID-19 Tax Deadline Postponement Relief
- Risky Business: Florida's Government Contractors Should Make Sure Their Contract Modifications are Valid
- SHUTTS WHITE PAPER: When the Music Stops - Business Interruption Coverage and the Ongoing Game of Financial Musical Chairs
- Employer Tax Insights: Employee Retention Credit
- Does COVID-19 Warrant a 90-day Extension of a Case Pending More than a Year?
- Employer Insights: Unemployment Insurance Provision Updates Under the CARES Act
- How to Keep the Government from Shutting Down Your Jobsite During Coronavirus: Know the Rules and Follow Them
- Does the COVID-19 Crisis Warrant Relief from a Preliminary Injunction Related to Fire Engines?
- SHUTTS MEMORANDUM: Bankruptcy Code Changes Under the CARES Act - April, 8, 2020
- Stop Work Orders and Construction Site Abandonment Series, Part 2 (Site Abandonment)
- Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Deadlines Extended Due to the COVID19 Crisis
- The Corona Virus Effect - Empty Roads May Pave the Way to Help Lessen Economic Damage
- Proactive Measures that can Provide Relief to Key Players in the Construction Industry
- Stop Work Orders and Construction Site Abandonment Series, Part 1 (Stop Work Orders)
- SHUTTS CONSTRUCTION MEMORANDUM: The CARES Act and Construction-Related Updates - March 31, 2020
- SHUTTS CARES ACT MEMORANDUM - March 30, 2020
- SHUTTS MEMORANDUM: Land Use Applications, Staff Access and Public Hearings - March 27, 2020
- How Will Borrowers and Lenders Respond to the New Coronavirus Economy?
- SHUTTS COVID-19 MEMORANDUM - March 25, 2020
- Rental Housing Industry Responds to Coronavirus Outbreak
- How the Governor's Emergency Orders Will Affect Building Permits and Inspections
- Hackers are Leveraging Fear during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Florida’s Narrow Take on Force Majeure Clauses
- The Global Supply Chain in the Time of COVID-19
- Labor & Employment Considerations in the Wake of COVID-19
- Is Coronavirus a Force Majeure Event?
Coronavirus Related News and Updates
- Logan Gans Comments on the Effects of the Coronavirus on Florida's Next Tax Cycle
- Aliette DelPozo Rodz Quoted in Coral Gables Magazine
- Daniel Nordby Moderates Florida Bar CLE on Zoom Oral Arguments
- Joseph Goldstein Speaks on Public Construction Issues in Light of COVID-19
- Alexander Tachmes Discusses P3's with GlobeSt
- Meredith Freeman Discusses the Construction Industry's New "Essential Business" Challenges
- CPBCCC Discusses Plans for Reopening Businesses Post COVID-19
- Diamela del Castillo-Payet Discusses Immigration Executive Order
- Mary Ruth Houston Discusses Updated EEOC Guidance
- Diamela del Castillo-Payet Comments on Immigration Policies during COVID-19
- Bowman Brown Comments on Halt on Lending Amid Coronavirus
- Lee Mackson Comments on CMBS Debt in South Florida Market
- Shutts & Bowen Attorneys Attend Trial via Zoom
- Logan Gans Discusses CARES Act Funding with Forbes
- Florentino Gonzalez Discusses Real Estate Sales Contract Changes due to COVID-19
- Matt Chait Comments on Tenant and Landlord Rents Fees during COVID-19
- Michelle Hendler Discusses Imminent Bankruptcy Filings in South Florida
- Frank Zacherl Discusses the Impact of COVID-19 on Insurers and Outside Defense Law Firms
- Paul Scheck Presents on What Businesses and Lenders Need to Know in the Covid-19 Era
- Partners Alexander Tachmes and Mary Ruth Houston Host Webinar for Hospitality Professionals
- Paul Scheck Answers Questions on Florida's Unemployment Benefits
- Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Trusts & Estates Attorneys See Bump in Business
- Tampa Partners Discuss CARES Act Federal Funding, Preparation
- West Palm Beach Partners Present to RPPTL
- Bowman Brown Comments on Mid-Market Economic Slowdown during COVID-19
- John Dannecker Comments on what Stay-at-Home Orders mean for Central Florida's Construction Industry
- Michael Kelley discusses Coronavirus updates related to Government Action, Job Site Preparation and Insurance Protection [link to video]
- John Meagher Discusses Remote Work During the Pandemic
- Shutts Partners Weigh In on Hospitality Industry's Battles Amid the Coronavirus
- How Coronavirus is Impacting the Real Estate Industry [link to video]
- Bowman Brown Discusses the Federal Reserve Bank’s Interest Rate Cut amid Coronavirus Pandemic
- Olga Pina Comments on Coronavirus Trade Impact
- Update from Shutts & Bowen on COVID-19
Payment Protection Program
On May 15, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application.
The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.
Florida Orders and Notices
Florida Eviction and Foreclosure Suspension
UPDATE: On June 1, 2020, Governor DeSantis extended the moratorium until 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2020. To view the Executive Order, please click here.
Governor Ron DeSantis Suspends Florida Evictions and Foreclosures for 45 Days
On April 2, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he was suspending evictions and foreclosures across the state for the next 45 days, in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Specifically, the order “suspend[s] and toll[s] any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action under Florida law for 45 days from the date of” the order. The order also “suspend[s] and toll[s] any statute providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by residential tenants due to the COVID-10 emergency for 45 days from the date of” the order. Finally, the order states that the order should not “be construed as relieving an individual from their obligation to make mortgage payments or rent payments.”
By Administrative Order of the Florida Supreme Court, no Clerk of Court may issue a writ of possession at this time.
Our attorneys have analyzed the order and are prepared to advise on its effect. For more information, please reach out to Matthew Chait.
To view the Governors Order on Evictions, click here.
Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order No. AOSC20-23
On April 6, the Florida Supreme Court entered Administrative Order No. AOSC20-23. In short, the order extends the various suspensions and guidance of the Court’s prior orders entered in response to COVID-19. The key provisions are:
- All rules that limit or prohibit the use of technology remain suspended.
- Court proceedings may be conducted by remote electronic means to the extent possible.
- Witnesses may be sworn in through a remote video connection.
- The issuance of writs of possession remains suspended.
- All grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials remain suspended.
- Certain identified proceedings may be conducted in person, such as first appearances, arraignments, Baker Act proceedings, and so on. In-person hearings other than in the listed types of proceedings are prohibited.
- All time periods for a speedy trial in criminal and juvenile proceedings remain suspended through June 1.
- Requirements for in-person visitation in family matters is suspended in dependency cases where children are under the protective supervision of the Department of Children and Families.
Legal Issues Impacting Our Clients
On March 9, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52, which declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. The order allows for the tolling of certain permits and in some instances up to an additional six months beyond the tolled period.
Overview - § 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes
This order allows for the extension of certain permits and authorizations for the duration of the emergency declaration, and for up to six months in addition to the tolled period. Written requests must be submitted to the authorizing governmental agency within the approved number of days for appropriate application as set forth within Section 252.363, Florida Statutes. Permit extensions may apply to:
- building permits;
- a development order issued by a local government, which includes a wide variety of local government approvals that permit development activities;
- a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to Part IV of chapter 373, Florida Statutes; and,
- a Development of Regional Impact’s (DRI’s) build-out date—Section 380.06(7)(c), Florida Statutes.
Impact of the CARES Act on the Construction Industry
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or “Act”) was enacted on March 27, 2020 to provide emergency assistance and health care support for individuals, families and businesses affected by COVID-19. There are several provisions and relevant programs within the Act that will have an impact on the individuals and businesses working in the construction industry, including:
- Construction Project Funding Provisions
- Funding for the "Community Development Fund"
- Construction Business Loans and Loan Exclusions
- Relief for Small Businesses (1-500 employees)
- Emergency EIDL Grants
- Opportunities for construction workers to receive direct cash
- Business and Employment Tax Provisions
To view a comprehensive summary of the impact of the CARES Act on the construction industry, click here.
Timothy Woodward or any member of the Construction Law Practice Group is able to advise related businesses and professionals on the quickly evolving legal implications of coronavirus in the construction industry.
Cybersecurity and Working Remotely
Protect Your Business While Employees Work Remotely
Now that many of us are working remotely, we may begin to see an increase in phishing emails that may contain subjects such as “COVID-19 Update,” “Open Immediately,” “Coronavirus” or some variant of these. There are also text messages offering compensation in the form of gift cards due to store closures. Any number of these messages may come from phony senders claiming to be service providers, courts, vendors or even clients. It is also important to remember that hackers will continue their regular phishing activity in addition to health-related phishing attempts. Hackers are counting on their targets having their guard down and having less interaction with their IT teams while working remotely leaving them more susceptible.
Protect Your Personal Information
By leveraging fear and the good intentions of the public, hackers are using coronavirus messages to steal passwords, personal data and financial information. Individuals should obtain their information from reliable resources, like the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization. In order to avoid falling victim to these schemes, remember some of these useful tips below:
- Ignore emails, texts and phone calls from strangers.
- This may include messages related to donating to help the fight against COVID-19, investing in stock options, or online offers for coronavirus-related vaccines and cures.
- Do not open attachments, download files or click on links from unexpected emails.
- These emails may appear to come from individuals or businesses you know, but are actually from a slightly different email account.
- Do not forward unknown emails, as these might contain viruses or malware.
- Be wary of anyone asking for money toward research for a cure or victims of the virus.
- These should raise immediate red flags if they request prepaid gift cards or bitcoin.
- Be careful of fake websites offering coronavirus protective supplies or testing kits, as they may be counterfeit.
FDEO's Short Time Compensation Program
Employers should be aware that under the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s new Short Time Compensation Program, employees who have been put on a reduced hours schedule or have been partially furloughed may be entitled to receive unemployment benefits to supplement their reduced paychecks. This program is designed to encourage employers to reduce the hours of their employees as opposed to implementing mass layoffs of employees. More information regarding this Short Term Compensation program can be found here.
Mary Ruth Houston or any member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group is able to advise employers of their obligations, especially under the FFCRA, EFMLA and EPSLA, as well as the quickly evolving employment law implications of coronavirus in the workforce.
Employers who are considering furloughing employees must be careful to comply with any state specific notice provisions, including those that apply to wages or wage reductions. In structuring furloughs, employers must also bear in mind concerns under the Fair Labor Standards Act, benefits, and similar employment issues. Under certain circumstances, a furlough of more than six (6) months may trigger WARN Act notice obligations. These situations are fact specific and for more information employers should contact Mary Ruth Houston or any member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group.
Government Loan Programs
The State has created the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. The program offers loans of up to $100,000 for eligible small businesses in Florida affected by the coronavirus. The loans are interest-free for 12 months and then 12% per annum thereafter. The applicant company cannot have more than 100 employees. Applications are being accepted through May 8, 2020.
Also, the Federal government is offering loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Florida businesses became eligible to participate in this program after the Governor’s Disaster Declaration. The loan amounts are up to $2 million. The interest rate is 3.75% and repayment periods of up to 30 years are being offered in order to keep payments affordable.
Foreclosures and Evictions
See above under Florida Eviction and Foreclosure Suspension. Please reach out to Matthew Chait with any questions.
If a business has an existing SBA-backed loan, a lending partner may be able to provide a six-month deferral on loan payments.
For SBA-backed loans sold on the secondary market, lenders can authorize a one-time 90-day deferment without prior investor consent.
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (the “Act”), which provides refundable tax credits for two types of leave that were created under the Act: 1) a paid sick leave credit; and 2) a paid child care leave credit. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances. The Act generally applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees, except for certain exceptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees.
Under the Act, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of their payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit such taxes with the IRS. The payroll taxes that will be available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.
The Florida Department of Revenue is considering, on a case-by-case basis, requests for extensions of the deadline for payment of State corporate income and sales taxes.
Financial Services Regulatory Relief Efforts
On March 26, 2020, the Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA) requested that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) consider an extension of the Regulation Best Interest compliance deadline from June 30, 2020 by at least six months to January 31, 2021. Kimberly Prior and Greta Trotman, who are members of FIBA’s Legal & Regulatory Affairs Committee, contributed to the SEC submission. Shutts & Bowen will keep its clients apprised of the SEC’s response to this request.
Shutts & Bowen has carefully examined the Regulation Best Interest compliance issues and hosted several workshops on the topic. The firm has developed and implemented strategic solutions to help clients comply with upcoming standards and expectations. For more information or if you have questions, please do not hesitate contact Bryan Wells, Kimberly Prior or Greta Trotman from the firm’s Financial Services Practice Group.
Florida Corporate Tax Relief
On April 27, 2020, the Florida Department of Revenue (“DOR”) released Order of Emergency Waiver/Deviation #20-52-DOR-003, which provides certain relief for Florida corporate taxpayers due to the COVID-19 emergency. The order postpones the Florida corporate income tax and franchise tax return filing deadlines for entities with a fiscal year that ended December 31, 2019 until August 3, 2020. The deadlines to make a tax payment and to file for an extension (and make an applicable tentative tax payment) were postponed until June 1, 2020. In other words, an entity is required to make a tax payment by June 1, 2020 even if the entity does not expect to file its Florida corporate tax return until August 3, 2020. If an entity files for an extension by June 1, 2020, then the return will generally be due on November 2, 2020 (but payment must still have been made by June 1, 2020).
Entities that had fiscal years that ended on January 31, 2020 or February 29, 2020 also had their tax return filing deadlines postponed until August 3, 2020. However, such entities are still required to make a tax payment or file for an extension (and make an applicable tentative tax payment) on their normal scheduled deadlines (e.g., July 1, 2020 or August 3, 2020, respectively). Finally, the DOR has advised that the deadlines to make estimated tax payments of Florida corporate income tax between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020 have not been modified. This is unlike the guidance provided by the Internal Revenue Service, which postponed the deadline for certain estimated US Federal tax payments until July 15, 2020.
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News & Insights
- Recognition, The American Lawyer, 6.3.20
- Media Mention, Daily Business Review, 6.1.20
- There is Only One Miami Beach: Preparing for the Next Generation of South Florida Residents and InvestorsArticle, Daily Business Review, 6.1.20
- Media Mention, Coral Gables Magazine, 5.15.20