FDA-Approved Anti-Malaria Drugs for COVID-19 Treatment Fall Within Liability Shield of the PREP Act

The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) gave emergency approval this week to two (2) anti-malaria drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, to be used for treatment of COVID-19 patients.  Despite the limited studies as to the benefits of these drugs and the well-known risks of these drugs, the FDA took the position that, under the current circumstances, the potential benefits and effectiveness outweigh the risks.  While the FDA is conducting a trial as to the effectiveness of these drugs, millions of doses have already been shipped to hospitals nationwide for administration in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Brittany Wakim, please visit the Duane Morris Products Liability Blog.

Life-or-Death Hospital Decisions Come With Threat of Lawsuits

Doctors and hospitals overwhelmed in the pandemic will have to make their excruciating life-or-death decisions meticulously or they risk being second-guessed by a jury when the onslaught is over.

Lawyers who defend health care providers are already giving advice on how their clients can avoid liability if they’re forced to choose between patients. How they prepare for this battlefield triage now — and how they practice it in the chaos of peak infections — will determine whether negligence cases against them are dismissed or lead to trials or settlements over the death of a parent or spouse.

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Hospitals and doctors are focused on care right now, as they should be, said Sean Zabaneh, a lawyer with Duane Morris LLP in Philadelphia who represents them in court.

Still, he said, they should be “making sure they have insurance coverage in place that is applicable to the new circumstances that are becoming more normal every day as a result of the pandemic, and staying up to date on the quickly evolving legal standards and legislation.” Lawmakers could pass legislation to protect health care providers that adhere to the standard of care, he added.

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To read the full article, visit the Bloomberg website.

Considerations for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses in Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic

Many small and mid-sized businesses are facing unprecedented challenges in dealing the COVID-19 pandemic.  In many states, “non-essential” businesses have faced complete shutdowns.  In the face of COVID-19, small and mid-sized businesses face myriad challenges and it can be overwhelming to try to tackle them with limited human and capital resources.  The below is a list of key risk-mitigation items that should be priorities for small and mid-sized businesses as they face remote working challenges and capital crunches. Continue reading “Considerations for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses in Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic”

Can ‘force majeure’ save your company from the coronavirus?

The provision is a legal term known as force majeure. Taken from French civil law, force majeure is “a contract provision that excuses a party’s performance of its obligations under a contract when certain circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, commercially impracticable, illegal, or impossible,” according to a recent coronavirus and force majeure story in The National Law Review.

Force majeure has been invoked in the past by companies seeking to explain contractual failures stemming from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Sandy, SARS, and Ebola. But the international response to the coronavirus—quarantines, shutdowns, and travel bans—has upended business as usual around the world in an unprecedented way, said attorney Gregory Bombard, a partner at the law firm Duane Morris.

Companies seeking to escape liability for failing to deliver the terms of a contract are scrambling for the legal cover to do so, he said. “They want to know: Who bears the risk if we can’t deliver?”

To read the full text of this article, please visit the Compliance Week website.

My Boss Wants Me to Travel During the Coronavirus. Do I Have to Go?

As the deadly coronavirus becomes a global pandemic, companies like Apple and Starbucks have stopped operating in China, and others, like Sony and Amazon, have pulled out of global trade shows like this month’s World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.

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The only opportunity for an employee who contracts coronavirus to seek damages outside of workers’ compensation is if their company has behaved recklessly—such as by ordering them to Wuhan, the epi-center of the virus. According to Jonathan Segal, a partner at the law firm Duane Morris, the fact the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 advisory for China—a flat-out “do not travel” warning—means firms could face special liability in the event their employees contracted the virus.

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“There’s the legal answer but, from a practical management point of view, you don’t want to force people who are scared into doing something,” says Neuberger.

Segal echoed this sentiment, saying “it’s a horrible message to the workforce” to order employees to travel when they are fearful of a pandemic.

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To read the full text of this article, please visit the Fortune website.