Protests over death of George Floyd spill out into Miami and Broward

On May 25, 2020, Memorial Day, George Floyd died while in police custody. Office Derek Chauvin was charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in his death, only after a series of protests took place in Minneapolis. Recommended sentencing guidelines are 12 1/2 years for the charge of third degree murder and 4 years for the second degree manslaughter charge. A series of protests has hence been sparked throughout the country, including major cities such as New York, D.C., Houston, Portland and even Miami.

Curfew in Effect

Saturday and Sunday saw mass protests, a blockage of I-95 and rampant looting throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County. A curfew was in effect Saturday night, May 30, 2020, commencing at 10:00 p.m. On Sunday, May 31, 2020, a curfew was in effect from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. The curfew could likely be extended further if warranted.

EFFECT OF PROTESTS ON COVID-19 QUARANTINE

Due to the protests which occurred over the weekend; Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez issued a statement on May 21, 2020, in which he decided to postpone the opening of the beaches until the curfew order is lifted. “In addition, I will be updating the emergency order to extend the hours of the curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., effective Sunday, May 31st, until the order is lifted. Cities can have stricter rules. For instance, the City of Miami curfew begins at 8 p.m.” Apartment pools, private pools and condominium/home owner association managed pools may open June 1, 2020.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ME?

With all of this unrest and added uncertainty, you may be worried how it will affect your business. Whether you are a landlord or hotel/motel owner who recently rented your property to vacationers who may now be seeking a refund due to the beaches not reopening on June 1, 2020 as initially intended or whether your business was attacked and looted; the attorneys at G&R Law are able to assist you in ensuring your business is one step closer to recovery.  G&R Law will work with you during these trying times and within your financial means to help you and your business recover from the effects of any violent protesters and Covid-19.

Please click on the link to contact G&R Law and set up your free of charge telephonic or video appointment.

Stay safe during these trying times.

David Vega, Esq.

Summer is Here and the Beaches of Miami-Dade County and Hotels of Miami Beach are Re-opening Amid Covid-19 with some New Guidelines

With summer in full form, Miami-Dade County has been lagging behind other counties in Florida when it came to re-opening its beaches. Many Miami-Dade County natives even resorted to travelling to other counties like Collier to obtain some relief from the heat and enjoy the beach and ocean-side hotels and motels. This is all about to change commencing June 1, 2020.

Miami-Dade County Re-opens Beaches June 1, 2020

Beachgoers come Wednesday, June 1, 2020, will be allowed to enter the beaches so long as they are wearing face masks. They may remove the face masks if they are in the water or maintain social distance. People will be allowed to sunbathe, jog, walk and rent concessions and beach chairs. However, groups of 10 or more people will not be allowed to congregate. Police and beach ambassadors will be posted along the beach to ensure compliance.

Miami Beach Hotels will also be opening June 1, 2020

The City of Miami Beach will also be allowing for hotels to open commencing June 1, 2020. Again, while face masks and social distancing must be maintained; it remains to be seen whether there will be compliance. Hotel and motel owners may be fined and also potentially liable to any patrons who contract Covid-19 if they did not ensure that precautions such as social distancing were enforced as to all patrons.

How these changes may affect my business?

With these changes taking place in the next few days, you may be worried how it will affect your business. Whether you are a landlord seeking to rent your property for a few days or a hotel or motel owner concerned about the ramifications of not adequately enforcing social distancing in your place of business; the attorneys at G&R Law are able to assist you in reviewing the new protocols to ensure your business is in compliance with the New Normal Guidelines.  G&R Law will work with you during these trying times and within your financial means to help you and your business recover from Covid-19.

Please click on the link to contact G&R Law to set up your free of charge telephonic or video appointment.

Stay safe during these trying times.

David Vega, Esq.

Has Your Business Made a Claim or been Denied for Business Interruption Insurance, Let us Help!!

 

Business Interruption Coverage

Business Interruption Insurance or contingent business interruption coverage is a type of policy which covers obviously interruptions in your business.  Business interruption coverage is often part of a commercial property policy and is not usually sold independently.  This type of insurance policy covers against economic losses resulting from a business not being able to operate due to one of the covered events listed in the policy.  Your business interruption insurance policy should list or describe the various types of events that qualify your business for a claim.  I am positive that no policy will list COVID 19 or the Corana Virus Pandemic specifically as a cause for a claim, instead an argument must be made as to why the policy and those provisions which apply require the insurance company to provide coverage.  Therefore, it is important to have your policy reviewed by an attorney to determine whether a claim can be made under the existing terms of the policy.

Viruses like COVID 19 or Corona Virus

Viruses or bacterial outbreaks are typically not insured unless specifically added by an endorsement which is basically an add-on provision to the policy.  Some newer policies even specify and exclude viruses and disease expressly as insurance companies saw claims in other parts of the world during the SARS and other virus or bacteria outbreaks.

What do you have to show to get coverage?

Business interruption coverage requires a showing of losses linked to an event that is covered under the policy.  It can get complicated when you have multiple causes, for instance, the Corona Virus and the building or shopping center being forced to close and whether it is deemed covered or uncovered under the policy.   A business interruption event is usually defined as a physical loss (possibly destruction of merchandise) in response to a physical event (natural disasters or theft).  With that said, in 2002-2003, the SARS outbreak led to million of dollars paid by insurers, including a $16 million dollar claim by the hotel chain Mandarin Oriental International.  As such, the requirement for physical damage was weakened by cases such as the Mandarin’s and opened the door to making legal challenges.

Business interruption policies normally include an endorsement excluding coverage for viruses or epidemics but more recently there have been some policies which have pandemic specific coverage for losses as a result of government mandated closure and diminished revenue as a result of quarantine.  For instance, in England the Wimbledon Tennis tournament chose to cancel its tournament completely instead of postponing because in part they had a pandemic specific policy which provided for more than $200 million dollars in coverage.

There has been a public outcry for insurance companies to cover Corona virus related claims for business interruption.  President Trump recently chimed in suggesting that insurers should pay or encouraged them to pay some business interruption claims related to the corona-virus pandemic.  Several states have introduced bills to retroactively protect businesses and require insurance companies to cover claims including nullifying viral exclusion clauses.  These bills are far from being passed and will most likely produce heated debate in government chambers and if passed will produce significant legal challenges.

Looking at the SARS epidemic for some clarity, policy holders at that time argued that government closures constitute “physical damage,” in that businesses were forced to shut down and therefore the policies should cover there losses.  Case law from the SARS epidemic seems to suggest that the courts will side with policy holders or at least are the sympathetic favorite.

Conclusion

Business interruption claims based on closures for COVID 19 OR Corona Virus will receive significant blow back from the insurance companies and will definitely be an uphill battle for businesses making claims.  Depending on the individual policy, a claim may be worth it for the business depending on the terms and the arguments that can be made.  At the very least, you should have an attorney review the policy to make a qualified analysis.  The attorneys at our firm are ready, willing and able to review your policy and provide a free legal review.

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Javier L. Gonzalez, Esq.

Contact me at:  Jgonzalez@gr-law.net

 

Miami-Dade County to Re-Open Today Under the New Normal Guidelines

On May 18, 2020, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez is set to commence reopening Miami-Dade County and allow non-essential business to re-open under new stringent guidelines. Part of this plan includes a color flag identification system designed to show the status of the continuum of the new normal.

RED: Most stringent closures; only essential businesses open; social distancing and facial covering requirements in place;

ORANGE: Parks and open spaces open; preparations taking place to reopen other sectors with strict capacity requirements in place; social distancing and facial covering requirements in place;

YELLOW: Limited opening of non-essential businesses and other facilities; strict capacity requirements in place; social distancing and facial covering requirements in place;

GREEN: More expansive opening of businesses and facilities; capacity requirements expanded; social distancing and facial covering requirements in place;

BLUE: New Normal is in place; all businesses and facilities open; social distancing and facial coverings encouraged.

Business that choose to open must follow some of the following strict requirements:

  • Facial coverings must be worn at all times when social distancing is not possible;
  • Employees must stay 6 feet away from each other;
  • Common access points such as doors, handles, light switches and elevator buttons must be sanitized;
  • Bathrooms must be sanitized every two to three hours;
  • Virtual meetings are encouraged and employees are urged to work from home if possible;
  • CDC signage on “Stop the Spread of Germs” must be posted in the workplace and employees must be trained in new operating procedures to deal with Covid-19 issues.

For a more exhaustive list of requirements and suggestions, please see The New Normal, A Guide for Residents and Commercial Establishments.

Some Concerns Moving forward under the new normal

Moving forward during these new strange and challenging times, some valid concerns are raised. For example, according to The New Normal, any business establishment which has an employee or contractor test positive for Covid-19 must close for the shorter of 14 days or the time it would take to have every employee tested and the business sanitized. Specific guidelines also exist for retail and small business. Also, staggered employee breaks, having a single point of entry and queues to pay at a cashier are strongly recommended. Merchandise that has been tried on must not be returned to shelves for 24 hours or until it has been properly sanitized.

Restaurants are also imposing special requirements to ensure that servers must maintain their masks on, social distancing markers must be placed on the ground, menus must be disposable and indoor restaurants must not operate at more than 50% capacity.

The attorneys at G&R Law are able to assist you in reviewing the new protocols of your business to ensure you are in compliance with the New Normal Guidelines.  G&R Law will work with you during these trying times and within your financial means to help you and your business recover from Covid-19.

Please click on the link to contact G&R Law and set up your free of charge telephonic or video appointment. 

Stay safe during these trying times. 

David Vega, Esq.

Florida Courts Status Update

Florida Courts are slowly commencing the process of reopening; however, a greater emphasis is being placed on remote hearings via Zoom rather than in-person appearances. The Supreme Court of Florida recently issued Amendment Number 1 to AOSC20-23 which addresses a series of changes.

Court matters to be heard remotely

Some of the notables changes are that all jury trials shall remain suspended now through and including July 2, 2020. As to non-jury trials and other “non-essential” matters, these will continue to be conducted remotely on a case-by-case basis as determined by the presiding judge and the chief judge of each circuit.

“After COVID-19 has determined that the following proceedings are amenable to being conducted remotely:

  1. Alternative dispute resolution proceedings;
  2. Status, case management, and pretrial conferences in all case types;
  3. Non-evidentiary and evidentiary motion hearings in all case types;
  4. Arraignments and pleas in absentia in county court misdemeanor cases;
  5. Hearings in juvenile delinquency cases;
  6. Hearings in noncriminal traffic infraction cases;
  7. Problem-solving court staffings, hearings, and wellness checks; and
  8. Non-jury trials in all case types, except for criminal, juvenile delinquency, and termination of parental rights petitions in dependency cases unless the parties in an excepted case agree to the remote conduct of a non-jury trial.”

If you have a pending case or have questions regarding a potential claim you may have, please contact the attorneys at G&R Law.

Writs of possession as to Foreclosure/eviction proceedings

The issuance of writ of possessions pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.580(a) as they related to eviction and/or foreclosure proceedings remain suspended indefinitely. It is advisable if you are a tenant seeking relief on your rent payment or alternatively a landlord seeking to collect rent from your tenant(s) to attempt to communicate and reach a resolution as to a new amount which would be agreeable to both sides. If you are unable to reach a resolution, the attorneys at G&R Law are here to provide assistance.

Family Matters

As to family matters, in-person visitation of children remains suspended if the parents are unable to agree as to a safe manner in which to conduct same. However, electronic communication via video or alternatively telephone is to be conducted in lieu of in-person visitation.

If you are a parent and believe it would be in the best interest of your child to have in-person visitiation with you and it can be done in a manner which would keep both of you safe from Covid-19, the courts are allowing said visitation on a case-by-case basis. The attorneys at G&R Law can assist you in being able to safely enjoy visitation with your child.

What should i do now?

The attorneys at G&R Law are able to assist you in reviewing your leases and negotiating on your behalf with your tenants and/or landlord.  G&R Law will work with you during these trying times to make sure you are able to have visitation with your children so long as it can be done in a safe manner.

Please click on the link to contact G&R Law and set up your free of charge telephonic or video appointment. 

Stay safe during these trying times. 

David Vega, Esq.

Overdue for a Haircut or Nail Appointment?

Are you starting to look a bit like you belong in an 80’s rock band? Are your nails looking chipped and ragged? Is your barbershop and/or salon ready to take care of the grooming needs of your community? Well you’re in luck since Governor Ron de Santis has issued Executive Order #20-120 Expanding Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery as to Palm Beach County residents.

Barbershops, Cosmetology SAlons and Cosmetology Specialty Salons

Barbershops, cosmetology salons, and cosmetology specialty salons that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures as outlined by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at the following link may now open commencing as of 12:01 A.M. on May 11, 2020. This eases the previous restriction as per Executive Order #20-112 in which Palm Beach County barbershops and cosmetology salons were lumped in with those of Broward County and Miami-Dade County and not allowed to open.

Barbershops and salons must operate by appointment only and with at least 15 minutes between appointments so as to properly sanitize the area. Staff must also wear masks.

What this means for Broward and Miami-Dade County barbershops and salons?

While barbershops and salons in Broward and Miami-Dade County are still closed; the fact they were opened in Palm Beach likely means Broward and Miami-Dade are next. As a barbershop and/or salon owner, you should be ready to reopen your business as soon as it is allowed by government officials. The announcement by Governor de Santis as to Palm Beach County was made on May 9, 2020, with only two days notice prior to allowing for these business to reopen. You should contact employees and inform them they should be ready. Also, you should have a supply of masks, gloves, disinfectant and otherwise allow customers to feel at ease your business is serious about protecting them from the potential risks due to Covid-19.

What should I do now?

As a barbershop and/or salon owner, after making sure your business is ready to open once allowed to do so by government officials, you may wish to speak with an attorney to see which options work best for you and your new business model. 

The attorneys at G&R Law are able to assist you in reviewing your leases and negotiating on your behalf with your landlord and/or your employees.  G&R Law will work with you during these trying times and within your financial means to help you and your business recover from Covid-19.

Please click on the link to contact G&R Law and set up your free of charge telephonic or video appointment. 

Stay safe during these trying times. 

David Vega, Esq.

Florida to Partially Reopen Amidst Covid-19

Governor Ron de Santis has issued Executive Order 20-112 which commences Phase 1 of his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Stop Plan” to reopen the State of Florida. While the plan is light on the details, the following locations are remaining closed or reopening with restrictions:

AFFECTED BUSINESSES

  • Restaurants can reopen with 25% capacity indoors and outdoor seating will be allowed, all with social-distancing of at least 6 feet and only seating parties of 10 or few people. Bar counters shall remain closed.
  • Bars, pubs and nightclubs that derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages shall continue to suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Gyms and fitness centers shall remain closed.
  • Vacation rentals shall remain prohibited.
  • In-store retail centers can operate at 25% of indoor capacity, so long as they continue to abide with the safety guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.
  • Both outpatient and inpatient elective surgeries will restart statewide.
  • Museums and libraries can open at 25% of capacity only if their local government allows it. Interactive exhibits shall remain closed.

Enforcement

Any violation of this order shall constitute a second-degree misdemeanor pursuant to section 252.50, Florida Statutes, and is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500, or both.

What should I EXPECT NOW?

As a Florida resident, employee, potential business owner and/or consumer, you are probably now considering the pros and cons of attempting to return to your regular, pre-Covid-19 life. Rest assured, whether it be interpreting a lease, negotiating with your lender for a loan modification or ensuring your business is compliant with these new and ever changing regulations due to the coronavirus, you should speak with an attorney to see which options work best for your specific situation.

The attorneys at G&R Law are able to assist you and will work with you during these trying times and within your financial means to ensure you are able to take your first steps towards recovering from the effects of Covid-19. 

Please click on the link to contact G&R Law and book your free of charge telephonic or virtual appointment. 

Stay safe during these trying times. 

David Vega, Esq.