COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

Articles Posted in Bellas and Wachowski Law Firm

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Wills Can Be Signed Electronically

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, wills needed to be signed in person and witnesses (including notaries) needed to be on hand to see the will creator’s actually sign the will.

When the pandemic got underway, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed an Emergency Order declaring that for health and safety related reasons, wills could be signed electronically and that notaries public and other witnesses could view the signing from afar, provided they had a dependable audio and video connection.

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Attorneys Misty Cygan and Geo Bellas can help your get business off to a good start.

We’ve run a series of posts recently about the steps involved in launching a business.  These have covered issues like deciding what type of business you want to start and what your business model will be; putting together a business plan and identifying sources of capital investment; and naming and registering your business.

This final post will flesh out how forging a beneficial relationship with a law firm that delivers services in a punctual, professional and affordable manner is key to the endgame of getting started with your new venture.

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Cyber Security Insurance

UPDATED AUGUST 23, 2020 –  A federal judge in Kansas has ruled that three Missouri restaurants can proceed with their claims against Cincinnati Insurance Company alleging that the policies also covered “physical loss,” which the insurers failed to define in the policies.  The insurance company’s argument is that the policies provide coverage “only for income losses tied to physical damages to property, not to economic loss caused by governmental or other efforts to protect the public from disease.” In other words, they cover direct physical damages or losses from events like storms or fires.  This argument was rejected by the federal district court judge.

August 10, 2020 –  The sudden expansion of remote work arrangements in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis has created a buffet of opportunities for would-be cyber criminals. And the newly reconfigured, decentralized satellite workplaces in people’s homes look to be with us for some time.   In addition to protecting themselves from the network vulnerabilities created by these off-site offices, businesses need to undertake a thorough review of their cyber insurance policies to ensure that if a malicious actor causes them harm, they are protected on the fiscal front.

As Chicago area business litigation lawyers this is a question we frequently are asked.

E-Signatures in Illinois

Electronic Signatures are Enforceable under Illinois Laws. 

E-Signatures are permissible and valid in Illinois under the Illinois Electronic Commerce Security Act (the ECSA).

Force Majeure Clauses

SBA Loans to Small Businesses affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

THERE IS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS.

Practically every small business is feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world.   The restaurant and hospitality industries have been hit the hardest, but every business has seen the adverse effects.

Did someone say force majeure?

Force Majeure Clauses

COVID-19 Pandemic and Force Majeure clauses

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, force majeure is defined as “An event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled.”   It is generally viewed as an unexpected event that prevents someone from doing or completing something that he or she had agreed to do.  The term is usually applied to acts of God (such as floods and hurricanes), riots, strikes and wars.  It is unclear, however, if the term includes an epidemic, such as COVID-19.   That legal term for unforeseen circumstances resulting in non-fulfillment of a contract is likely to be invoked widely this spring and summer as businesses are unable to make good on commitments due to the corona virus crisis.

As Harvey Weinstein rape trial moves forward, has your Chicago area business kept up with the increased awareness of sexual harassment and moved forward with adequate policy and cultural safeguards to ensure that you’re not the next target of the #MeToo movement?

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#MeToo Movement is changing business environment protections.  

A survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, in conjunction with the software company SAP, found that one-third of U.S. workers and 38% of supervisors say they have changed their office behavior as a result of #MeToo.

We all get them … and we get them all the time … and we are all tired of them … and we all cuss them out!

Many of those calls are illegal.   Some of the robocalls you may have agreed to receive when you signed up for certain services – like those reminders that your prescription needs to be refilled – and those are legal.  But the automated, unsolicited calls coming from other countries are finally getting some attention from the federal government.

TRACED-Act-300x167The dead heads in the House and Senate have finally agreed on something and adopted the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (“TRACED Act”) at the end of 2019 and it was signed into law at the end of 2019.  The TRACED Act’s stated purpose is to limit the increasing number of illegal robocalls and other violations of the telemarketing laws.  The Act also gives the FCC more powers to punish violators under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and to seek out violators in foreign countries.

Non-competition agreements (“non-competes”) have long been viewed as viable means for Chicago area business owners to prohibit former employees from taking confidential information and using it to unfairly compete against the business.   Non-competes are actually prohibited in some states, but not Illinois.

Illinois allows the use of non-competes with some limitations.  Illinois employers are allowed to use non-competes provided they reasonably protect the employer’s legitimate business interests.  What this means has been left to the courts, and there has been a steady erosion of the effectiveness of non-competes by limiting the scope of those agreements.

Illinois has passed several laws recently which limit the effectiveness of employee non-competes and which should be of concern to Chicago area business owners:

Lung injuries related to vaping began to appear on hospitals’ radar screens last summer, and the e-cigarette industry has been singed by criticism ever since.

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Chicago Business Lawyer George Bellas warns about health issues with vaping

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 42 deaths based on e-cigarette or vaping product use as of December 10, along with more than 2,400 cases of lung injury related to the products. In response, some cities and other local bodies have banned either e-cigarette flavors, or just e-cigarettes overall.