Commercial Litigation Alert Blog

NJ Assembly Initiates (Then Withdraws) Proposal to Ensure COVID-19 Coverage

NJ Assembly Initiates (Then Withdraws) Proposal to Ensure COVID-19 Coverage

Last week, legislation was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly that would require property insurers to cover business interruption losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic suffered by small businesses (i.e., businesses with less than 100 full-time employees who work 25 or more hours per week). The bill would require coverage for any loss of business or business interruption “due to global virus transmission or pandemic” that is suffered for the duration of the State of Emergency declared by Governor Murphy on March 9, 2020. It appears that such coverage must be provided regardless of existing policy requirements (e.g., direct “physical loss” or “damage”) or potentially applicable exclusions (e.g., the “Virus or Bacteria” exclusion in many policy forms). After an initial favorable vote by the NJ Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee, the bill was reportedly withdrawn by its sponsors, but may be amended and reintroduced in the short-term. The bill as initially drafted would provide significant relief to policyholders with small- to medium-sized businesses that may be the hardest hit in what is rapidly developing into a global economic crisis. This would certainly be welcome relief. However, that proposed relief comes with a potential backend cost to all policyholders...

Successful Crisis Management During a Pandemic

Successful Crisis Management During a Pandemic

We are living in a moment that can only be described as a crisis on multiple fronts. While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a situation like none other, our experience advising clients through past crisis situations provides guidance on how to handle critical decisions in an uncertain and unsettling environment in a time of chaos and panic. Past experience has taught us that a crisis situation can either become a distant bad memory or turn into a disaster. Failure to handle crisis management and key decisions effectively now and in the near future can lead to devastating consequences. There are common themes and basic strategies to any crisis which bear repeating. Keep in mind that decisions are made in real time. They are also made with imperfect information, and initial decisions are magnified one hundred fold. Don’t compound the problem. The first rule of crisis management is, “do not do anything to make it worse.” In responding to the coronavirus, that means, first and foremost, to stay healthy. You and your leadership, team, and employees cannot help anyone and get back to normal if they are sick, so do not take risks with anyone’s health. Remember that credibility is key....

The Coronavirus Pandemic and Your Business: How We Can Help – Litigation Issues That May Arise

The Coronavirus Pandemic and Your Business: How We Can Help – Litigation Issues That May Arise

A wide variety of issues are arising and are likely to arise in connection with, and in the aftermath of, the COVID-19 crisis. The Gibbons Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department is here to help, and can work with you to address these critical concerns. Breach of contract disputes stemming from the coronavirus situation are likely to be widespread. They are surfacing already and will continue to surface throughout commercial contexts and for numerous reasons, including the ever-changing landscape of market forces that are at play right now. One notable – and particularly relevant – contractual concept, force majeure, is going to be front and center. Force majeure provisions may excuse otherwise impermissible actions in certain extraordinary situations beyond the control of the party failing to perform. It is, therefore, critically important that contracts are reviewed both for the presence of (and particular language surrounding) such provisions and for any necessary notice requirements. Additionally, employment contracts are likely in jeopardy, which will inevitably lead to wrongful termination claims. Relatedly, you may need to enforce restrictive covenants – or fight their enforcement – in the aftermath of the crisis. Also likely to arise are supply chain disputes. People and companies will need...

Insurance Coverage in the Age of COVID-19

Insurance Coverage in the Age of COVID-19

As the coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycle, the actual (and anticipated) impact on business operations and business continuity has hijacked the attention of owners, managers, and C-suite executives at all levels and in all industries. Among the myriad issues to be resolved, one obvious question is the extent to which insurance coverage is available for business losses arising from this public health crisis, including reduction of business income, incurring of extra expenses, disruption of supply chains, event cancellations, and potential liability from stakeholder lawsuits. Some companies may have purchased specialized forms of insurance policies that are designed to provide specific coverage for losses suffered as a result of public health crises. However, the vast majority of companies will need to look to their traditional insurance policies – like property and directors and officers coverage – in order to obtain available insurance, if any, for these business related losses. As an initial matter, coverage for actual loss of business income and extra expense is typically part of a company’s property insurance policy and not separate, standalone coverage. Therefore, coverage for business income and related losses depends on demonstrating that these losses resulted from “physical loss” or “damage” to covered...

27 Gibbons Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department Attorneys Selected to 2020 New Jersey Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

27 Gibbons Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department Attorneys Selected to 2020 New Jersey Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Attorneys from the Gibbons Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department were featured in New Jersey Super Lawyers and New Jersey Super Lawyers Rising Stars, with 18 Department attorneys on the 2020 Super Lawyers list and nine on the 2020 Rising Stars list. These attorneys were listed in a wide range of categories, including Antitrust, Business Litigation, Class Action, Communications, Construction Litigation, Criminal Defense, Criminal Defense: White Collar, Insurance Coverage, and Media/Advertising. Highlights of this year’s New Jersey Super Lawyers list include the top-tier rankings earned by two Department attorneys: Top 10 Attorneys in New Jersey Lawrence S. Lustberg, Co-Chair, Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department Top 100 Attorneys in New Jersey Michael R. Griffinger, Director, Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department Lawrence S. Lustberg, Co-Chair, Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department The Gibbons attorneys listed in the 2020 issue of New Jersey Super Lawyers are: Frederick W. Alworth Guy V. Amoresano Robert C. Brady Thomas J. Cafferty Patrick C. Dunican Jr. Michael R. Griffinger Jennifer A. Hradil Bruce A. Levy Lawrence S. Lustberg Robert J. MacPherson Michael R. McDonald Brian J. McMahon Mary Frances Palisano Damian V. Santomauro Peter J. Torcicollo Thomas R. Valen Christopher Walsh John T. Wolak Those listed in the 2020...

Gibbons Chairman and Managing Director & CCL Department Member Featured on ROI-NJ’s Third Annual “Influencers Power List

Gibbons Chairman and Managing Director & CCL Department Member Featured on ROI-NJ’s Third Annual “Influencers Power List

ROI-NJ, a weekly newspaper covering business in New Jersey, has named Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons P.C. and a member of the firm’s Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department, to its third annual “Influencers Power List” of the professionals with the greatest influence on business in the state. The list ranks New Jersey’s top 30 influencers by number, then features a select group of influential professionals in various fields. Gibbons attorneys have been featured on this list every year it has been published. The firm also has more attorneys on the 2020 list than does any other law firm in New Jersey. Mr. Dunican is one of 19 people on the “Lawyers” list. The publication notes: Oversees what many feel is the state’s most powerful firm. Client list is a who’s who of business and political leaders. Dunican’s deft handling makes him one of the most respected leaders in the sector. Mr. Dunican has been featured on this list every year it has been published. He is also consistently ranked on the PolitickerNJ “Power List” of the 100 most prominent and connected people in New Jersey politics and has been named for ten consecutive years among...

NJBIZ Lists Patrick Dunican and Jennifer Phillips Smith  Among Its 2020 “Power 100”

NJBIZ Lists Patrick Dunican and Jennifer Phillips Smith Among Its 2020 “Power 100”

For the tenth consecutive year, NJBIZ has featured attorneys from Gibbons P.C. on its annual “Power 100” list of the most influential people in New Jersey business. Patrick C. Dunican Jr., the firm’s Chairman and Managing Director, is one of a select few people to be named to this list every year it has been published, while Jennifer Phillips Smith, a Director in the firm’s Real Property Department, makes her debut on the 2020 list. This year, NJBIZ notes of Mr. Dunican: The influence of Gibbons PC, one of the state’s biggest law firms, grew this year with the addition of an office in Red Bank. The 94-year-old Newark firm, which has a Trenton outpost that opened in 2002, expanded to Red Bank because it’s a linchpin of Monmouth County and home to some of its most significant clients—nearly half of the county’s top 10 employers are Gibbons clients. Patrick Dunican has been at the helm since 2004 and his business influence extends internationally: he was recognized in August for promoting business ties between New Jersey and Ireland by Donegal County Council with the 2019 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award. From 2017 to 2018, exports from the Garden State to...

Gibbons Hosts “Keys to Negotiating Better Software & Software-as-a-Service Agreements” Seminar – June 3-5, 2020

Gibbons Hosts “Keys to Negotiating Better Software & Software-as-a-Service Agreements” Seminar – June 3-5, 2020

From June 3-5, Peter J. Frazza, a Director in the Gibbons Commercial & Criminal Litigation Department, will lead a seminar in New York City analyzing the negotiation of software licenses and software-as-a-service agreements, including data protection and privacy issues companies face that are specific to software transactions, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Mr. Frazza has over 30 years of experience handling complex lawsuits and contract negotiations on behalf of licensees and users in software licensing and software-as-a-service matters. For additional seminar details or to register, click here.

Appellate Division Creates Split on Learned-Professionals Exception to New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

Appellate Division Creates Split on Learned-Professionals Exception to New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

In a recent opinion, Shaw v. Shand, the Appellate Division held that home inspectors are not “learned professionals” exempt from liability under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). Instead, the court held that only professionals who have historically been recognized as “learned” based on the requirement of extensive learning or erudition are exempt under the CFA. In Shaw, the plaintiffs hired the defendant, a licensed home inspector, to examine a home for defects. The defendant wrote a report concluding that the property was built with professional workmanship, was made of quality materials, and would only require typical maintenance and upgrades. The plaintiffs purchased the property in reliance on that report. Soon after the plaintiffs made the purchase, however, the property’s front porch collapsed. Plaintiffs then learned that the roof, windows, and sliding glass doors all leaked and required complete replacement and that the driveway would need to be replaced as well. They then discovered that the house had a significant mold problem. At the time the Appellate Division decided Shaw, the plaintiffs had spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing those conditions, and expected to spend tens of thousands more. Defendant’s inspection of plaintiffs’ home was his first as...

States Step Up Data Privacy and Security Regulation

States Step Up Data Privacy and Security Regulation

State legislatures from California and New York have taken action to respond to rising privacy concerns by enacting legislation to protect consumers and their personal information, and the New Jersey legislature is actively working to pass similar legislation to enhance the privacy and security obligations applicable to personal information obtained from New Jersey consumers. This legislation typically requires businesses to inform residents of certain rights regarding the collection or sale of their personal information and to provide notice to residents if a security incident at the company involves their personal information. As deadlines quickly approach for the enforcement of these laws, it is important for businesses to take action now and revisit privacy, security, and storage practices, as well as the associated policies for maintaining appropriate data privacy and security throughout the organization. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which takes effect January 1, 2020, accords significant new privacy rights to consumers and imposes corresponding new requirements on businesses. In general, the CCPA mandates businesses to implement procedures to provide notice to consumers at or before the collection of personal information, to respond to consumers’ requests for the production or deletion of their collected information or to opt-out from its...