DOI Announcement of a Proposed Rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention

The long-awaited proposed changes to the Department of Interior’s Financial Assurance Rule (“Proposed Rule”) were finally announced yesterday by the Trump Administration.  The announcement provides, among other things, that the proposed rulemaking is in efforts to clarify, streamline and provide greater transparency to the financial assurance requirements (e.g., supplemental bonding) for OCS lessees and grant holders of pipeline rights-of-way (“ROW”) and rights-of-use and easement (“RUE”), while protecting U.S. taxpayers against picking up the tab for high-risk decommissioning liabilities.  Once this Proposed Rule is published in the Federal Register (date yet to be announced), the public will have a 60-day comment period. Continue Reading

Louisiana’s Coastal Land Loss Litigation Produces Opinion of Interest to Appellate Practitioners in Federal Court

The jurisdictional contest over the proper forum for Louisiana’s sprawling coastal land loss litigation continues as petitions for panel and en banc rehearings on federal jurisdiction pend before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs’ strident effort to return to the state courts, located in the coastal Parishes whose governments have sued the industry, has yielded an opinion involving the jurisdiction of federal district courts during an appeal. Continue Reading

Commercial Lease Considerations in the Wake of Hurricane Laura

Commercial Lease Considerations in the Wake of Hurricane Laura

Following disasters such as Hurricane Laura, business owners have a variety of concerns when beginning the recovery process. Chief among those concerns: what to do when your place of business has been damaged or destroyed? If you lease your place of business, or if you lease out land or buildings to other people for their businesses, this concern becomes especially important when you consider the different parties with a potential interest in the recovery—the lessor (landlord), the lessor’s insurer, the lessor’s lender, the lessee (tenant), the lessee’s insurer, and the lessee’s lender. Being familiar with your lease agreement is the key to understanding the extent of your rights and responsibilities, especially as they pertain to repair obligations, obligations regarding the payment or reimbursement of insurance deductibles, insurance recovery, and rights to termination and reduction (abatement) of rent. As an initial matter, the first question you should ask yourself is: What kind of lease agreement do I have? Continue Reading

SEC Expands Investor Classes for Unregistered Securities Transactions

Yesterday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules that amend the definitions of “accredited investor” and “qualified institutional buyer” which are central to classifying investors that may participate in private offerings and investments under federal securities laws.

A company wishing to offer or sell securities to the public must register those securities with the SEC unless an exemption from registration is available under federal securities laws.  The registration process is intended to protect investors by providing regulatory oversight and requiring the public disclosure of key information about the offered securities, but it is often lengthy and costly.  As an alternative, many companies seek to raise capital with unregistered securities pursuant to an available exemption. Continue Reading

U.S. Customs Revokes Recent Offshore Wind Ruling; Maintains Uncertainty Whether the Jones Act Applies to Wind Farm Installations on the OCS

On July 15, 2020, the Unites States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a ruling (HQ H309672) in connection with the installation of an offshore wind farm located off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts in U.S. territorial waters (the “July 15 Ruling”).  CBP determined that activities to be conducted in connection with the installation of offshore wind turbine generator (“WTG”) units using a non-coastwise-qualified jack up vessel (i.e., not a Jones Act compliant vessel) (the “Installation Vessel”) did not violate the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 55102) (or the Passenger Vessel Services Act (46 U.S.C. § 55103)). Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Interior Announces Formal Partnership with Norway to Promote and Share Offshore Energy Knowledge and Experience

Yesterday, the United State Department of Interior (DOI) announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy of the Kingdom of Norway to formalize a partnership to share best practices, knowledge, experience, policy, and regulatory initiatives in connection with the development of as oil, gas, and wind energy resources. Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Clarifies “Substantial Nexus” Test for LHWCA

In Mays v. Chevron Pipe Line Co., 2020 WL 4432025, a three-judge panel of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held on August 3, 2020, that the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act may apply to an injury in state territorial waters if there is a substantial nexus between an employee’s injury and his employer’s, both direct and statutory, extractive operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. Continue Reading

Louisiana Governor Signs 2020 Tort Reform Legislation

One of the major outcomes of the 2020 Louisiana Legislative session was the passage of tort reform legislation that supporters argue will lower insurance rates and change the state’s notoriously litigious environment. The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, House Bill 57 (“HB57”) introduces a number of key changes:

  • Allows jury trials if damages sought exceed $10,000 (the prior rule required $50,000 in damages);
  • Revised the controversial “collateral source rule”;
  • Repealed the limitation on presenting evidence of a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt in a car accident; and
  • Limits the discussion of a party’s insurance coverage before a jury except (with limited exceptions).

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Additional Guidance for Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Loans Under the CARES Act

On June 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued Notice 2020-50 which expands the categories of individuals eligible for coronavirus-related distributions (“CRDs”), loans, and loan repayment suspensions as well as resolves some of the issues that were concerning plan administrators and employers under the CARES Act. Under Section 2202 of the CARES Act, a qualifying CRD, which is subject to an aggregate $100,000 maximum, is: (1) not subject to the 10% additional tax on early distributions, (2) generally includible in income over a 3-year period, and (3) to the extent the distribution is eligible for tax-free rollover treatment and is contributed to an eligible retirement plan within a 3-year period, will not be included in income. Section 2202 also provides that: (1) for loans made during on or after March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) and before September 23, 2020, the limit on loans from an eligible retirement plan is raised to the lesser of $100,000 (reduced by the excess of outstanding loans) or 100% of the participant’s vested accrued benefit; and (2) for loans with outstanding balances on or after March 27, 2020, a one-year delay in loan repayment due dates is provided with respect to due dates occurring during the period from March 27, 2020, to December 31, 2020. For more information on these CARES Act topics see our prior newsletter here. Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Federal Anti-Discrimination Law Protects Gay And Transgender Workers

On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) – which bans employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex – prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. This decision marks a pivotal change from prior decisions of federal appellate and district courts which held that Title VII only banned discrimination based on the biological distinctions between persons born as male and female. It also obviates the need for the types of bills that have been submitted to Congress annually to expand the language of Title VII to include references to sexual orientation, gender stereotyping, and gender identity. Continue Reading

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