Missouri Executive Order on Remote Notary Services

Governor Parson issued an Executive Order for remote notary services on April 6, effective until May 15, 2020 (or until further notice).  The Order is available to download.

Download "Order-remote notary-COVID-April 6-MO.pdf"

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Teamwork

Our team is grateful for the outpouring of community support, and the state and nationwide efforts to tackle COVID-19 and many other legal and business issues that have impacted so many in 2020.

Small Business Options and Protections

We are fortunate to serve large and small businesses and individuals.  Attached is information from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that may be of assistance to some small businesses as they face the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Download "Paycheck Protection Guide.pdf"

March 2020 Summary of $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

Thank you to our friends at Ollis/Akers/Arney in Springfield for sharing the attached summary of the stimulus bill, and allowing us to make it available as a resource.  We value our relationships locally and nationally, and appreciate the cooperation in helping to navigate the path forward.

Download "Stimulus Summary-COVID.pdf"

EXPANSION OF AT HOME/IN PLACE ORDERS

Greene County, Springfield, Missouri, has adopted an "at home order" effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 26 for 30 days (subject to modification).  Our firm will continue to provide services as appropriate and in accordance with the order, the Rules of Professional Conduct, and in conjunction with other guidance, including but not limited to the CDC and WHO.  Most of our employees and clients (with the primary client exceptions being healthcare, food service, and transportation) are working remotely.  Kansas City, St. Louis, along with several states and other counties have similar orders.  Should you have specific questions about the impact of the orders, please let us know and we will answer them as we can, or direct you to individuals or other authorities as needed.  We understand the significant upheaval and uncertainty of the pandemic, and value everyone's contributions in working through the situation in the most appropriate manner possible, with health and safety remaining a priority.

Court Proceedings, Depositions, and Mediations Given COVID-19

Given the evolving COVID-19 situation, we cannot provide a comprehensive analysis of the multiple changes which have occurred in most courts, but rather provide a high level overview of some changes.  Please contact the court or us (main e-mail is hcb@hcblawfirm.com or your handling attorney directly, if applicable) with any questions.  There are numerous on-line resources to access information about the courts.

Court proceedings:
Most in-person proceedings are postponed until at least April 6, excepting (in most instances) trials in progress.

Many hearings and deadlines have been postponed, although there may in some instances be phone hearings or videoconferencing available with the courts.

Some states are tolling the statute of limitations for some actions during the pandemic.  Even where states have not acted, practitioners should be mindful of possible equitable tolling due to an "emergency".  As always, be sure appropriate action and communication occurs with the client.

Depositions:

Some depositions continue to be taken, with appropriate measures in place to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.  These are now typically being done remotely, but in appropriate locations, may still be able to be done in person with social distancing and other health and safety practices in place.

Mediations:
Some courts take the position that resolution of disputes are "essential functions" and thus scheduled mediations should proceed where appropriate, although phone and videoconference appearances are now typically allowed.  Partner Laurel Stevenson has conducted a number of mediations, and advises that alternatives to in-person mediations are not ideal, but cases can still be resolved by alternative means.  Also, mediations are not limited to existing cases, but can be effective pre-suit or for resolving disputes which do not involve money damages.  If you are in need of a mediator, please call Laurel direct at 417-883-5539 or e-mail her at lstevenson@hcblawfirm.com.

These are challenging and difficult times for everyone.  Many of our clients, colleagues and adversaries are out of work or working with reduced resources, working from home, providing child care, and/or otherwise working or operating in less than ideal circumstances.  Please let us know if you have particular concerns or issues which need to be addressed.
 

Missouri's Response to Deadlines and Other Issues as of March 21, 2020 in response to COVID-19

Attached are some of the adjustments which have been made in Missouri given the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to driver's license renewals, tax filings, and state assistance programs, along with additional resource information.

Download "COVID-Mo response-March 21.pdf"

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS GIVEN COVID-19

The attached memo contains changes in Missouri employment and procedures and and other considerations given COVID-19.  The referenced insurance bulletin is available to download in the other news post titled "Missouri Notification for Insurance Carriers".  Further details regarding changes in remote work can be accessed by downloading the document in the post titled "Missouri's Response to Deadlines...."

Download "COVID-March 22-2020 memo.pdf"

Missouri Notification for Insurance Carriers Given COVID-19

The attached three-page bulletin was issued in light of continued developments with COVID-19.  Please note voluntary and required provisions. 

Download "COVID-Insurance Bulletin-Missouri.pdf"

Insurance coverage for business losses due to COVID-19

The current pandemic has raised numerous insurance and other questions.  The most common insurance question we have received is whether there is coverage for business losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As with any coverage question, the policy terms and conditions must be evaluated.  Generally, business interruption coverage is designed to protect against losses sustained for periods of suspended operation due to property damage.  In most cases, contagious diseases do not constitute property damage.  Moreover, many policies contain Bacterial/Virus or other Contagious Disease Exclusions.  If there is an emergency evacuation order, one of the questions may be whether the loss was due to or "because of" an "order of civil authority."  Any specific opinion of coverage must be based on the policy terms and conditions and facts by someone qualified to provide such opinion.  Given the unprecedented situation, there may be legislative changes and/or litigation which may ultimately decide some of the coverage questions.   

Southern District affirms summary judgment in dog bite case

Missouri's Southern District Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment for the firm's clients in a dog bite case.  The minor plaintiff claimed that the lessors of property were liable for the injury caused by the dog which was staying with the lessor's  tenant.  The dog was owned by a person living with the tenant.  The Southern District disagreed with the plaintiff's claim of liability, finding that the lessors did not "harbor" the dog as they did not make the dog part of their household.  Attorney Phil Quinn defended the lessors and handled the appeal.  AT v. Satterfield, SD 36351, 2020 Mo. App. LEXIS 291 (Mo. App. S.D. March 13, 2020)

SUCCESSFUL MOTION PRACTICE

In the latter part of 2019, Laurel Stevenson associated with Memphis Attorney Camille Reifers of Boyle Brasher in securing a favorable dispositive ruling in a toxic tort case, saving a client a week-long trial and thousands of dollars in legal fees.  In February of 2020, the firm achieved several favorable evidentiary rulings in a significant personal injury case, including two rulings which will substantially reduce trial time and expense.  Attorney Phil Quinn assisted with the briefing.

Commitment to Community Safety Results in Significant Recoveries and May Effectuate Necessary Changes

Our firm has been dedicated to our community for over a quarter of a century, including defending small businesses, individuals and corporations.  It was through the firm's defense of one of those individuals that the firm had an opportunity to pursue recovery following the his loss of two family members.  The losses occurred as the result of an organization's violation of essential safety standards.  During the course of representation, the firm learned that others had been harmed due to the organization's safety violations.  Attorneys Randy Cowherd and Phil Quinn took the lead in representing the victims of sexual abuse and other heinous acts.  This resulted in  several multi-million dollar recoveries.  The firm anticipates that its work on these cases will lead to necessary changes that will reduce the risk of harm to other members of our community.    

NEWS

Looking Back

The legal environment has remained challenging for many of our clients, but we have achieved several favorable outcomes through strategic collaboration, including an increased emphasis on early risk assessment, appropriate motion practice, and utilization of mock trials and focus groups.

Some recent highlights:
  • More than a dozen trials and administrative proceedings, including medical malpractice defense, premises liability defense, commercial contracts, real estate, Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) defense, and workers' compensation defense;
  • Increasing our local counsel partnerships in state and federal courts, affording expansion of our practice areas and providing assistance to firms and clients in Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin;
  • Counsel on several appellate briefs;
  • Randy Cowherd and Laurel Stevenson were retained as experts in insurance matters, including bad faith and coverage; and
  • Laurel Stevenson argued a case before the Missouri Supreme Court.

Some jury trial results:
Catherine Reade secured a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of local southwest Missouri hospital following a five-day jury trial. The defendants included a nurse practitioner and trauma surgeon that provided care to a 24 year old male patient that presented to the facility for care for a traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall from a two story building. Plaintiff alleged that the facility was negligent in treating and discharging the patient. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before reaching a unanimous verdict in favor of defendants on all claims.

Randy Cowherd and Catherine Reade secured a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of local southwest primary care physician following a five-day jury trial. The defendant primary care physician provided care to an 83 year old male patient that presented to her facility for care for gastroenteritis. 24 hours after the last visit with the defendant primary care physician, the patient had a catastrophic event was hospitalized on an emergency basis and passed away two days later. Plaintiffs alleged that the primary care physician was negligent in treating the patient and this resulted in his death. The jury deliberated for less than three hours before reaching a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant on all claims.

Randy Cowherd obtained a defense verdict on a premises liability claim following a three-day jury trial in which plaintiff alleged an ADA violation.

Laurel Stevenson and Jeff Laney secured a judgment notwithstanding a verdict following a four-day jury trial in which the plaintiff claimed a permanent back injury, with the court finding that plaintiff failed to timely bring his claim, or alternatively, that plaintiff failed to properly establish medical causation.