Tagged: Coronavirus

SEC Offers Disclosure Guidance and Extensions of Certain Reporting and Disclosure Deadlines

SEC Offers Disclosure Guidance and Extensions of Certain Reporting and Disclosure Deadlines

Recognizing the struggle businesses currently face and will continue to face in satisfying their disclosure obligations amid the uncertainty surrounding this unprecedented crisis, the SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance on March 25 issued disclosure guidance specific to the coronavirus pandemic. In its guidance, the Division acknowledges that it “may be difficult to assess or predict with precision, the broad effects of COVID-19 on industries or individual companies” and that “the actual impact will depend on many factors beyond a company’s control and knowledge.” That said, the Division goes on to encourage “timely reporting,” noting that SEC disclosure requirements apply to a “broad range of evolving business risks” that may not be specifically identified, including the “known or reasonably likely effects of and the types of risks presented by COVID-19.” The Division encourages “tailored” disclosure of “material information about the impact of COVID-19 to investors and market participants … that allow investors to evaluate the current and expected impact of COVID-19 through the eyes of management,” and proactive revision and update of those disclosures as facts and circumstances change. The Division identifies in its guidance a non-exhaustive list of specific issues relevant to assessing and disclosing the evolving impact of COVID-19,...

Guidance for Consumer Product Manufacturers, Distributors, and Sellers

Guidance for Consumer Product Manufacturers, Distributors, and Sellers

Wide-ranging issues are arising in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to impact our clients in a growing number of ways. The Gibbons Consumer Class Action Defense Team is here to help and can work with you to address these critical concerns. Communication with consumers is critically important for consumer product manufacturers, distributors, and sellers, whether in the form of product labeling, advertising, or direct communications through telephone, text, and email. These communications are fraught with class action hazards that should be addressed in advance. Particularly in our present environment, product statements or advertising that, for example, promote the ability to stave off infection, increase the body’s immune system functions, or disinfect surfaces, may become subject to challenge in class action lawsuits by entrepreneurial class action attorneys. Sellers that contact their customers using text messaging platforms or dialing systems need to be particularly wary given the proliferation of TCPA class actions which cause great harm to small and large business alike. Also, companies seeking to recoup losses may over-aggressively promote their own products in a manner that is illegal and anti-competitive. Franchisors and franchisees may be faced with economic circumstances that make their current arrangements impractical. If...

Preparing for and Addressing Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on the Construction Industry

Preparing for and Addressing Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on the Construction Industry

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases exponentially in the United States, the impact on the construction industry will inevitably continue to rise. Although projects in many states continue to progress at this time, some jurisdictions have taken drastic measures. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently suspended all construction projects until further notice in response to COVID-19. Similarly, all construction projects in Boston were ordered to stop for at least 14 days. In addition to shutdowns that may possibly be imposed by potential government action in response to the virus, ancillary issues could adversely impact parties to a construction project and the labor, goods, services, and materials used on projects. Such issues may include disruptions to construction supply chains in the U.S. and abroad, employees becoming ill and under quarantine, a workforce adjusting to changes resulting from school closings and other evolving societal changes flowing from COVID-19, and a rapidly changing and uncertain economic situation. While the current situation is essentially unprecedented, there are some actions parties in the construction industry can take to help prepare for, and address, potential impacts to their business and ongoing projects. Review Construction Contracts: Whether it is a standard form construction contract...

The Consequences of What We Say: Minimizing Potential Liability Under the Securities Laws

The Consequences of What We Say: Minimizing Potential Liability Under the Securities Laws

The business challenges posed by the coronavirus are unique and unprecedented. The pervasive uncertainty, market turmoil, and near constant stream of new information inevitably draws our focus to near-term concerns and demands, and action that must be taken quickly to address them. However, it is in these exact times of crisis and uncertainty that companies cannot afford to lose sight of the very real consequences hastily made statements and disclosures may have in terms of liability under the securities laws. Securities class actions and shareholder derivative actions follow negative market activity like night follows day. And the coronavirus pandemic has created, perhaps more than any crisis before it, a perceived need for companies to provide customers, clients, shareholders, and the general public immediate, real-time updates about plans for navigating the pandemic and its impact on operations. Every person reading this post likely has an inbox brimming with emails regarding coronavirus plans and impact from every company with which they have ever transacted any kind of business. When the dust settles, however, it is these very communications—along with any SEC filings, earnings guidance, investor calls, and other public-facing statements regarding business operations issued during this time period—that will be combed for...

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...