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Court Upholds Plan Administrator's Interpretation in Recent ERISA Case
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2019

On August 16, 2019, the Ninth Circuit ruled in O'Rourke v. Northern California Electrical Workers Pension Plan, et al. that the board of trustees for an ERISA-covered multiemployer pension plan did not abuse its discretion by broadly interpreting the plan's ambiguous trade-based suspension of benefits provision to preclude a participant’s claim for early retirement benefits...

Recent Increase in IRS Enforcement of ACA Reporting Penalties
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2019

Recently, the IRS has intensified enforcement of information reporting compliance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Information reporting penalties apply in addition to any penalties assessed for failures to meet the employer shared responsibility provisions, known as the employer mandate...

Insurers Beware: California’s Notice-Prejudice Rule Is a “Fundamental Public Policy”
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2019

For those insurers that seek to circumvent California’s notice-prejudice rule, the California Supreme Court has just made that more difficult. In Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company, 845 F.3d 993 (9th Cir. 2017), the Ninth Circuit certified questions to the California Supreme Court, including: “Is California's common law notice-prejudice rule a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis?” (Pitzer College, 845 F.3d at 994...

Coping with COPA – New San Francisco Law Requires Owners of Certain Apartment Buildings to Offer to Sell to Nonprofits
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2019

The information in this article is based on new regulations issued by the City of San Francisco, and supersedes the article published in early June of this year.   San Francisco has recently enacted the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), a law that provides San Francisco nonprofits with the right to purchase apartment buildings of three or more units before they are put on the market...

CalSavers State-Sponsored Retirement Plan Has Officially Launched
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2019

As of July 1, 2019, registration officially opened for CalSavers, California's new retirement savings program, formerly known as Secure Choice. CalSavers is a mandatory state-sponsored program for private sector and nonprofit workers whose employers do not offer a retirement plan. Under CalSavers, eligible employers with five or more employees must register with the California State Treasurer’s office as a participating employer in CalSavers...

New Regulations for Binding Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements with Long-Term Care Residents
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2019

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued regulations that prohibited long-term care facilities from entering into pre-dispute arbitration agreements with residents and their families. Shortly thereafter, those regulations were successfully challenged in federal court, and CMS has not attempted to enforce them. On July 18, 2019, CMS issued a final rule that will formally rescind the ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements with long-term care residents...

CalPERS Announces New Fees for Section 218 Agreements
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2019

CalPERS Announces New Administrative Fees for Section 218 Agreements The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Social Security Administrator (SSSA), announced in July that it will begin charging new administrative fees to public agencies for Section 218 Agreements to pay the cost of administering the SSSA program...

California Supreme Court Potentially Slows Down the Expansion of the Legal Cannabis Market
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2019

In Union of Medical Marijuana Patients v. City of San Diego, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that the City of San Diego failed to analyze the potential environmental impacts of its medical marijuana dispensary law. While the main issue in this case was the definition of a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the ruling has important ramifications for the legal cannabis market as a whole...

New Timing Requirements for Certain California Eviction Actions Take Effect September 1
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2019

On September 1, 2019, AB2342 and its new timing requirements for issuing certain eviction notices and for answering eviction lawsuits go into effect in California. AB2343 amends California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1161(2) and (3) regarding 3-day notices to pay or quit and 3-day notices based on neglect or failure to perform other conditions or covenants of the lease or agreement...

The IRS is Coming for Your Cryptocurrency
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2019

Over the summer of 2019, the IRS significantly increased its efforts to police the taxation of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other similar cryptocurrencies. On July 26, 2019, the IRS announced that it had begun sending letters to taxpayers who potentially failed to pay cryptocurrency taxes associated with digital currency transactions or failed to properly report those transactions. By the end of August, the IRS anticipates that it will have sent over 10,000 letters to taxpayers...

Bureau of Cannabis Control Publishes New Distributor Fact Sheets
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2019

The Bureau of Cannabis Control recently published two new fact sheets on its website as a resource for industry stakeholders, licensees, and the general public. The facts sheet help everyone better understand the different responsibilities of the cannabis distributor (Type 11) and the cannabis distributor transport only (Type 13) licensee by providing a list of required procedures and guidelines for various distribution activities...

Employers May Offer Two New Types of Health Reimbursement Arrangements in 2020
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2019

Under final rules issued last month, employers can offer two new types of health reimbursement arrangements or HRAs: individual coverage HRAs ("ICHRAs") and excepted benefit HRAs ("EBHRAs"). HRAs are self-funded, account based plans that reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses on a tax-free basis. The final rules apply for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020. While the rules are complex, the new ICHRAs and EBHRAs offer new planning opportunities for employers...

California Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court and Confirms Insurer's Duty to Defend Additional-Insured General Contractor, Despite Seemingly Broad Exclusion
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2019

Last month, a California appellate court reversed the trial court and ruled that a subcontractor's insurer had a duty to defend an additional-insured general contractor in underlying construction-defect litigation. In McMillin Homes Construction, Inc. v. National Fire & Marine Insurance Company (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 1042, a general contractor was an additional insured under a commercial general liability policy issued to its roofing subcontractor...

Governor Newsom Signs AB 97 to Extend Provisional Licenses and Add Enforcement and Organic Certification to California Cannabis Market
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2019

On July 1, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 97 with the intent to reduce the illicit cannabis market by bringing more people into the legal marketplace and to ensure that persons most harmed by cannabis criminalization be offered assistance to enter into the billion-dollar cannabis industry. Below is a summary of the most important aspects of AB 97...

Ninth Circuit Rules ERISA Pension Plan Must Pay Survivor Benefits to Registered Domestic Partner
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2019

In a short, unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an ERISA pension plan administrator should have treated a deceased participant's registered domestic partner as a surviving spouse and granted his claim for survivor benefits...

California Appellate Court Affirms Large Punitive Damages Award Against Insurer
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2019

Last month, a California appellate court rejected an insurer's arguments and affirmed a large punitive damages award against the insurer, providing a fresh roadmap for policyholders to obtain such relief when insurers engage in certain bad-faith practices. Mazik v. GEICO General Insurance Company (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 455 involved a policyholder's claim for the $50,000 limits under his underinsured motorist policy...

New COPA Policy Now in Effect as of June 2, 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2019

On April 23, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), a policy designed to stabilize communities by preventing displacement and preserving affordable housing. The Mayor signed the legislation on May 3, 2019 and it went into effect on June 2, 2019...

A Compendium of Qualified Opportunity Zone Proposed Regulations
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

 Article PDF   On April 17, 2019, the Treasury Department released a second round of proposed regulations (the "4/19 Regulations") providing additional guidance on the implementation of the Opportunity Zone (“OZ”) tax incentive included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 4/19 Regulations are taxpayer-friendly and expand upon (but in some cases modify) the guidance provided in the initial proposed regulations released on October 19, 2018 (the "10/18 Regulations")...

A Compendium of Qualified Opportunity Zone Proposed Regulations
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

 Article PDF   On April 17, 2019, the Treasury Department released a second round of proposed regulations (the "4/19 Regulations") providing additional guidance on the implementation of the Opportunity Zone (“OZ”) tax incentive included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 4/19 Regulations are taxpayer-friendly and expand upon (but in some cases modify) the guidance provided in the initial proposed regulations released on October 19, 2018 (the "10/18 Regulations")...

Court Strikes Down Alameda Impact Fees in Boatworks, LLC v. City of Alameda
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

The Mitigation Fee Act, Government Code section 66000 et seq., authorizes local agencies to impose fees on development projects in order to cover the cost of public facilities needed to serve the developments. However, the local agencies' power to impose mitigation fees is not unlimited: the fees must be reasonably related to the increased burden on public facilities caused by the new development. (Gov. Code § 66000(b); 66001...

New IRS Rules Allow Retirement Plan Sponsors to Self-Correct Broader Range of Plan Failures
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

The IRS recently issued a new version of its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System ("EPCRS") that gives sponsors of tax-qualified retirement plans additional options for self-correcting plan failures. The new EPCRS allows plan sponsors to use the Self-Correction Program ("SCP") in several circumstances, rather than requiring a Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP) filing with the IRS and payment of the applicable user fee...

San Francisco Nonprofits Granted Right of First Offer to Purchase Residential Buildings With Three or More Units
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

On April 16, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA). The Mayor signed the legislation on May 3, 2019. COPA grants certain qualified nonprofit organizations the right of first offer and right of first refusal on sales of privately-owned buildings with three or more residential units and privately-owned property on which three or more residential units could be built...

Newly Passed Measure Puts Pressure on Owners of Vacant Storefronts
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

Effective April 22, 2019, new legislation expands the obligation of property owners to register vacant commercial storefront spaces with the City. The Board of Supervisors may also place a "vacancy tax" on November's ballot, which would tax owners for vacant storefronts after six months of vacancy. The newly effective measure amounts to an update of a previous ordinance that was passed in 2014. Both were introduced by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer...

Successor Employers Acquiring Unionized Workforces Benefit From NLRB Decision
Hanson Bridgett LLP, April 2019

In a recent case involving a health care facility, the NLRB issued a 3-1 decision that significantly changed a successor employer's bargaining obligations before imposing the initial terms and conditions of employment on a unionized workforce. While seemingly favorable to employers, the decision also serves as a reminder to companies that they should act cautiously and consult with counsel before they take over a business with a unionized workforce...

Successor Employers Acquiring Unionized Workforces Benefit From NLRB Decision
Hanson Bridgett LLP, April 2019

In a recent case involving a health care facility, the NLRB issued a 3-1 decision that significantly changed a successor employer's bargaining obligations before imposing the initial terms and conditions of employment on a unionized workforce. While seemingly favorable to employers, the decision also serves as a reminder to companies that they should act cautiously and consult with counsel before they take over a business with a unionized workforce...

DRE Implements Petition Process for Removing Discipline Information from Website
Hanson Bridgett LLP, March 2019

California Business and Professions Code Section 10083.2 requires the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) to provide information regarding the status of every DRE licensee on its website, including information regarding any disciplinary actions taken by the DRE against a licensee. The purpose of these disclosures is to ensure full transparency concerning information the DRE deems to present a "credible risk" to members of the public. The issue with Section 10083...

Ninth Circuit Decision on Santa Monica Short-Term Rental Ordinance is Win for Cities, Defeat for Airbnb
Hanson Bridgett LLP, March 2019

On March 13, the Ninth Circuit issued its highly anticipated opinion in HomeAway.com v. City of Santa Monica, upholding the City's ordinance restricting short-term home rentals on popular websites like Airbnb.com. Background In light of the severe housing crisis currently afflicting California, concerns have arisen over the impact of short-term home rentals on the supply of long-term housing...

California Supreme Court Rules No Vested Right to Airtime Purchases; Leaves California Rule Intact
Hanson Bridgett LLP, March 2019

On March 4, 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled in Cal Fire Local 2881 et. al. v. California Public Employees' Retirement System that public retirement system members do not have a vested right to purchase "airtime" – nonqualified service credit unrelated to public service...

San Francisco's Off-Street Parking Requirements Eliminated for Good
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

As of January 20th, 2019, San Francisco no longer requires a minimum number of parking spaces in new structures or new uses. This new law applies Citywide to all zoning districts. Previously, the City eliminated the parking requirement in many zoning districts in order to reduce traffic congestion, encourage alternative forms of transportation, and lower the cost to build housing...

San Francisco Supervisors Again Attempt to Limit Home, Apartment Sizes and Limit Demolitions
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

San Francisco Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Rafael Mandelman introduced the "Housing Preservation and Expansion Reform Act" in December 2018, a proposed law which hopes to limit major renovations and demolitions plus limit the size of newly built or newly altered residential structures. The two sponsors believe the current process results in too many larger units and demolitions, and that there is a connection between the two...

Proposed Bill Would Increase Skilled Nursing and Intermediate Care Facility Citations and Penalties
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

On February 13, 2019, Assembly Member Ash Kalra, District 27 (San Jose), introduced AB-506. If passed, AB-506 would amend California Health and Safety Code Sections 1423, 1424, and 1424.5 to grant the Department of Public Health the authority to issue more citations and higher penalty amounts...

California Court Rules That "Reporting Time Pay" Owed Even If Employees Are Not Required to Physically Report To Work
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

Employers in industries with fluctuating daily labor needs, such as retail services, often require employees to call in ahead of a scheduled shift to find out whether they are needed to work. According to a recently-published California Court of Appeal decision, employees who are required to use such a call-in procedure may be entitled to "reporting time pay" if they are told not to come to work that day—even if the employees do not physically report to work...

California Assisted Living Regulation Catches Up with Statute Regarding Evictions for Change of Use of Facility
Hanson Bridgett LLP, January 2019

On January 28, 2019, the California Department of Social Services issued a letter informing all licensed Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly that Title 22, Section 87224 of the California Code of Regulations has been revised. Section 87224 previously provided for a 30-day eviction notice to residents upon the change of use of a facility. This notice period was inconsistent with the applicable statute, Health and Safety Code Section 1569.682(a)(2)...

IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Relax 401(k) Plan Hardship Distribution Rules
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

The IRS recently issued proposed regulations to implement changes to the rules for hardship distributions from 401(k) plans made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (“BBA”) that will take effect on January 1, 2019. The proposed changes will make hardship distributions more widely available and will ease administration of hardship distributions for plan sponsors...

San Francisco's Large Central South of Market Upzoning Finally To Take Effect In January
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

Capturing lightning in a bottle: As fast-growing San Francisco concludes its largest rezoning in 10 years, will its novel new urban-planning guidelines for South of Market represent what the city's downtown needs in a fast-moving business, cultural and economic environment? In early December 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave final approval of the "Central SOMA Plan," (the Plan) resulting in the largest rezoning of the commercial heart of the city since the renowned Downt

Trump Administration's Clean Water Act Proposal Will Affect Many Developer and Public Agency Projects
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

"What are the 'waters of the United States'? As it turns out, defining that statutory phrase—a central component of the Clean Water Act—is a contentious and difficult task." This observation, recently made by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, understates the difficulty in answering what should otherwise be an anodyne question: Does my project require a Clean Water Act permit? At this moment, answers to this question may be far from certain...

SB 50: As Housing Crisis Continues, Senator Weiner Announces Revised Upzoning Legislation
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

Last week, State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) announced new legislation intended to immediately encourage more residential construction in areas near public transit and job centers. Entitled the More Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity and Stability (More HOMES) Act, SB 50 is essentially version 2.0 of SB 827, a similar housing bill proposed by Senator Weiner that failed in committee earlier this year...

IRS Extends Deadline for Providing Health Coverage Forms to Employees under the ACA, But Not the IRS Filing Deadline
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

Under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), large employers (generally those with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents) must report annually to the IRS information about the health coverage offered to their full-time employees during the prior year using IRS Form 1095-C. The IRS uses the forms to assess whether an employer "shared responsibility" penalty applies. Employers also must provide copies of the forms to their full-time employees...

IRS Updates Voluntary Disclosure Policy After Expiration of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

On November 20, 2018, the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) unit issued a memorandum to IRS Division Commissioners on voluntary disclosure practice following the end of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). How Did We Get Here? For the last 7 years, the IRS maintained a consistent, robust program for taxpayers with exposure to potential criminal liability or substantial civil penalties due to a willful failure to report foreign financial assets...

Reminder: Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, November 2018

New State Minimum Wage Effective January 1, 2019, the State minimum wage increases to $12.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees, and $11.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. New Local Minimum Wages Additionally, several California cities and counties have passed their own minimum wage ordinances with a more aggressive schedule of minimum wage increases...

Capturing (San Francisco) Lightning in A SOMA Bottle
Hanson Bridgett LLP, November 2018

As Fast-Growing San Francisco Concludes Its Largest Rezoning in Ten Years, Will Its Novel New Urban Planning Guidelines for South of Market Represent What the City’s Downtown Needs in A Fast-Moving Business, Cultural and Economic Environment? On November 13, 2018, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Central SOMA Plan at its first reading. Its final reading and approval, and the Mayor’s signature, is expected in December...

Proposed Regulations for Qualified Opportunity Funds:
Hanson Bridgett LLP, November 2018

Article PDF   On October 19, 2018, the Treasury Department released proposed regulations regarding certain aspects of the new qualified opportunity funds ("QOF") and related qualified opportunity zones...

New California Employment Laws For 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, October 2018

Governor Brown signed into law a number of bills, which significantly impact employers. Unless otherwise indicated, each new law takes effect the begining of 2019. For an in-depth analysis of how each law might affect your organization, contact one of Hanson Bridgett's experienced labor and employment lawyers...

California Mediation Privilege Remains; Mediation Disclosures To Appear In 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, October 2018

Recently, California legislators passed SB 954 creating a new pre-mediation requirement – the prospective Mediation Disclosure. "As soon as reasonably possible" before agreeing to mediate, attorneys are to present to clients a Mediation Disclosure affirmatively explaining mediation's confidentiality restrictions, execution of which acknowledges the client's understanding of the restriction's impact...

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks?
Hanson Bridgett LLP, October 2018

On October 3, 2018, the IRS issued guidance for employers on how to claim tax deductions for business meals this year. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, ("TCJA") business expenses for "entertainment" are no longer deductible, effective for 2018. However, the TCJA did not modify the separate 50% deduction for expenses for business meals, which left employers wondering how to distinguish a business meal from entertainment...

Can Groundwater Permitting Affect the Public Trust?
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

The California Court of Appeal recently upheld a lower court decision that, as we previously discussed, expanded the scope of the "public trust doctrine" to include groundwater. In Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board, the appellate court held that agencies permitting groundwater pumping must consider how pumping may harm "public trust interests...

Employer Obligations Regarding Post-Offer Medical Examinations
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

In EEOC v. BNSF Ry. Co., Case No. 16-35457 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2018), the Ninth Circuit held that an employer violates the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") by demanding that a job applicant with a perceived disability pay the cost of medical testing prior to being deemed eligible for employment. The employer offered an applicant a job as a Senior Patrol Officer on the condition that he satisfactorily complete a medical review...

Compromise JPA Pension Liability Bill Ready for Governor's Signature
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

As we reported in our May 31, 2018 Alert, the California Legislature has been considering legislation to prevent joint powers authority (JPA) member agencies from contracting out of liability for the JPA's pension obligations...

California Legislature Passes Bill that will Permit Shippers to be Held Jointly Liable for State Labor and Employment Law Violations by Port Trucking Companies
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

On August 31, 2018 California’s legislature passed Senate Bill 1402. Unless vetoed by Governor Brown on or before September 30, SB 1402 will allow shippers to be held jointly liable for state labor and employment law violations by port trucking companies. The bill, which was authored by Senator Lara (D-Bell Gardens), is aimed at ending the purported “exploitation of truck drivers who haul cargo from California’s ports...

The SEC Increases Enhanced Disclosure Threshold Under Rule 701 and Considers Broader Changes
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

Following the enactment of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted an amendment to Rule 701(e) increasing the threshold amount of securities that can be sold during a 12-month period from $5 million to $10 million. Securities sold in excess of the threshold trigger enhanced disclosure obligations for the issuer...

 

 

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