Legal Updates

OIG Issues Unfavorable Advisory Opinion Related to Fee Arrangement

Earlier this week the OIG issued an unfavorable Advisory Opinion concerning the relationship between an Anesthesiology Group (defined as the “Requester” in the OIG opinion), a Psychiatry Group and a Hospital.  The Psychiatry Group performed electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) services at the Hospital, requiring related anesthesia services.  The Requester had an exclusive contract with the Hospital [...]

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The Court of Appeal Settles the Priorities between Lien Claimants and Mortgagees

The latest word from the Court of Appeal on priorities between lien claimants and mortgagees and their receivers.

This Court of Appeal decision relates to an incomplete construction project in Squamish known as “Coastal Village”. The Bank of Montreal was the lead lender on the construction project and, as of June 30, 2009, just over $29 million was owing to the bank. Demand was made and shortly thereafter the owners of the project obtained a stay under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (the “CCAA”).

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McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies Advisory: This Week in Washington — November 15, 2013

President Obama has been adamant, even in the face of growing bipartisan anger, that he would not make significant changes to the Affordable Care Act. This week, facing the possibility of bipartisan action in both chambers, President Obama reversed course and announced changes that will allow individuals to keep their health insurance plans—even if they don’t meet the requirements of the new healthcare law.

Despite repeated assertions by Obama and Congressional Democrats that if individuals liked their plan or their doctor, they would be able to keep their doctor under the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have begun receiving notices that their insurance would indeed be cancelled.

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How to Ensure Compliance under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The FCC has changed its rules to require “prior express written consent” in order to auto-send commercial calls or texts. Failure to comply can open violators up to private lawsuits, and to damages awards of up to $1,500 per violation.  So what should be done to avoid pricey violations?

First, there needs to be written before commercial calls or texts are sent. While this rule revision was primarily meant to address robocalls, the interaction of this priority requirement with the need for “writing” means that it will have a special impact on commercial texts.  Notably, advertisers cannot send messages to consumer numbers pulled straight from interactions that begin offline (for example, from a responses to an on-TV exhortation to text in to get a coupon code).  A consumer’s consent and opt-in cannot be implied from their response to such an ad because it does not satisfy the new rule’s written requirements.

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The Case For Electrifying BC’s Natural Gas Fields

It is no secret that beneath the surface of the northeast section of the province of British Columbia lies very large natural gas reserves. Last week, the Provincial Government announced that it believes the province has an astounding 3.93 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas potential, of which 449 trillion cubic feet are estimated in the Montney gas field alone, roughly a 150 year supply (presumably based on current Canadian use).

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Guatemalan Plaintiffs sue HudBay and Subsidiaries in "Novel" Negligence Actions

Justice C.J. Brown of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed a motion brought by HudBay Minerals Inc. (“HudBay“) and two of its subsidiary corporations, including one Guatemalan corporation) to dismiss novel actions for negligence.  In the this case, the plaintiffs sued HudBay for its failure to prevent the harm allegedly caused by its security personnel at mining projects owned by HudBay’s subsidiary corporations in Guatemala. (Choc v. Hudbay Minerals Inc. 2013 ONSC 1414)
The plaintiffs are indigenous Mayan Q’Eqchi’ from the El Estor region of Guatemala.  They started three separate actions: Margarita Caal Caal v. HudBay;  Angelica Choc v. HudBay; and German Chub Choc v. HudBay.
In the Caal action, the plaintiffs were 11 women, who alleged that they were gang raped by mining company security personnel, police and military during their forced removal from their village as requested by a HudBay subsidiary.     
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Focus on expert evidence in family courts

The process of experts giving evidence in family courts is under the spotlight in England and Wales, with the Government publishing details of new national standards that it says will reduce unnecessary delays in court and increase the quality of the evidence giving.

“It is important that expert witnesses are used effectively in deciding the future of vulnerable children,” said Family Justice Minister Lord McNally. “These new standards put the welfare of children at the heart of the system, so only the highest calibre evidence is permitted and cases are resolved quickly.”

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Nil Rate Band will trusts: time to review

This year’s Finance Act introduced some significant constraints on when debts can be deducted for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes.  The changes should have set alarm bells ringing for any families who are making use of nil rate band will trusts and associated loans.

IHT is usually thought of as a tax that applies to a deceased person’s estate after any debts due have been deducted.  However, to have to pay IHT on funds which are then paid away to satisfy creditors will take some getting used to – but, unless you qualify for the very specific exception in section 175A(2) IHTA 1984, that is the effect of the new rules if debts are not discharged on or after death out of the estate.

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Multistate Tax Update — November 14, 2013

The New York Department of Taxation and Finance (the Department) recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(35)S (the Opinion). In the Opinion, the Department was asked by a catalog and online seller of wine located in California (Petitioner) whether it must collect sales tax on its sales of bottled wine in the state. New York tax law provides that such a seller must collect sales tax on wine. However, for other (nonalcoholic) tangible property sales sold in such a manner, requiring the seller to collect New York sales tax would be unconstitutional. The real question is—what makes wine so special? To fully appreciate this Opinion, it is important to understand where this Opinion departs from what would commonly occur with sales of other tangible goods, as well as the facts and circumstances surrounding the Petitioner.

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Senate Approves ENDA, LGBT Workplace Bill Faces Challenges in House

By Nancy Gunzenhauser, Susan Gross Sholinsky and Jeff Landes

With the Supreme Court’s influential decision in June, declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the tides are moving in favor of federal legislation on gay, lesbian, and transgender workplace rights. On November 7, 2013, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”), prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

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