Legal Updates

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies Advisory: This Week in Washington — March 14, 2014

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy added 175,000 jobs in February, besting economists’ expectations of a roughly 150,000 payroll gain. Many had warned of downside risks, given February’s bad weather—which hit during the period BLS conducts its employment surveys—and two weak labor-market reports released earlier in the week.

It was—and is—tough to tell. Teasing the precise weather effects out of the report is a difficult task. Just ask BLS, which says so explicitly: “It is not possible to quantify the effect of extreme weather on estimates of over-the-month change in employment,” the new report says. “What we need to do and will be doing in the weeks ahead is to try to get a firmer handle on exactly how much of that set of soft data can be explained by weather,” Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, said at a recent hearing.

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DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program: CMS Begins to Move Toward Nationwide Implementation and Seeks Public Comments Regarding Payment Methodology

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently announced that the agency is seeking public comments as it moves toward nationwide implementation of the Medicare Durable Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (“DMEPOS”) Competitive Bidding Program (the “Program”). CMS published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the February 26, 2014, Federal Register.[1]The deadline to submit comments is March 28, 2014.

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Pharmaceutical Failure to Warn…. On Facebook?

The Facebook page of Switzerland-based drug maker, IBSA Institut Biochimique S.A. (“IBSA”), appeared innocent enough:

If you have just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or are having difficulty controlling your levothyroxine blood levels, talk to your doctor about prescription Tirosint, a unique liquid gel cap form of levothyroxine.

In an untitled letter to the drug maker on February 28, 2014, FDA advised IBSA that its Facebook webpage was false or misleading because it made representations about the efficacy of Tirosint, but failed to communicate any risk information associated with its use and omitted material facts regarding Tirosint’s FDA-approved indications. 

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Building the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow: A Candid Discussion with the CEO of Venture for America, Andrew Yang

Let’s say a senior at MIT is about to graduate with a double major in Computer Science and Comparative Media Studies. Career Services tells the student, “You can make six figures at a Manhattan consulting firm, or you can apply to ‘Venture for America.’ Oh, and if selected by Venture for America, you will be sent to a city in need of entrepreneurs. There you will make less than $40,000 a year working for a start-up.” Which would you choose as your first job?  Fortunately, in 2013, hundreds of America’s best and brightest college students chose the latter and applied for the seventy fellowships offered by Venture for America.

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New Prospectus Exemption for Canadian Listed Issuers

On March 13, 2014, the securities regulatory authorities in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island adopted a prospectus exemption that will allow issuers listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) and the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) to raise money by distributing securities to their existing security holders, subject to certain conditions.

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How Hoteliers Must Comply With WARN

By Kara M. Maciel

When hoteliers are considering purchasing, selling or remodeling hotels, one of the most overlooked issues during the due diligence and planning phases relates to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

This statute requires covered employers to provide 60 days’ notice to employees, union representatives, state agencies and localities before carrying out plant closings or mass layoffs.[1] Congress intentionally devised WARN to provide affected employees adequate time to prepare for employment loss, seek and obtain alternative employment, and/or arrange for skill training or retraining to compete successfully in the job market.

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Trusts and the EU’s Fourth Money Laundering Directive

It is rare for trusts to cause a rumpus.  However, the European Commission’s latest draft EU Money Laundering Directive has put trusts in the spotlight and resulted in some alarming press reports.  So what’s going on and who will be affected by the changes proposed by the Directive?
Article 30 of the draft Directive requires trustees of trusts (or other types of legal entity and arrangements with a similar structure and function to trusts) established in or governed by a law of an EU Member State to disclose to ‘obliged entities’ that they are acting in their capacity as trustees.  ‘Obliged entities’ is a widely drawn definition which includes financial institutions, accountants, tax advisers, lawyers, trust providers and estate/letting agents with whom the trustees form a business relationship.  These trustees are also obliged to obtain and hold information concerning the identity of the settlor, the trustees, the protector (if any), the beneficiaries and any other natural person exercising effective control over the trust. 
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Multistate Tax Update — March 13, 2014

Florida: Taxpayer permitted to discontinue filing of consolidated tax returns

In a move that is largely unprecedented in the state, the Florida Department of Revenue (the Department) permitted a taxpayer which had been filing as part of a consolidated group to discontinue filing consolidated returns. If your business is already a consolidated filer in Florida or is about to become one, Technical Assistance Advisement 13C1-008 (the Advisement) is perhaps the best non-binding precedent for ceasing to file as a consolidated group.

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California District Court Confirms That Employees Need Not Be Paid For De Minimis Time

by Michael Kun

We have written frequently in this blog about the great many wage-hour class actions filed against employers doing business in California.   Those lawsuits often allege that a class of employees performed work off-the-clock, and that the employees are not only entitled to compensation for that time, but to a slew of penalties that often dwarf the amount of alleged damages. 

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The ambiguity in defining Internet commercials

The Screen Artists Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Commercials Contract governs wages and benefits for talent appearing in commercial advertising productions. SAG-AFTRA signatories include major marketers, such as P&G, Coca-Cola, and Unilever, as well as most ad agencies. A significant issue for marketers bound by the Commercials Contract is whether branded online video content is properly classified as a “commercial” intended for use on the Internet. More…

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