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LODGING Magazine recently published an article by Pillsbury attorneys Brian Finch and Zack Kessler titled Modernizing Hotel Security Protocols To Protect Against 21st Century Threats. The article discusses the recent bombings and shootings at high-profile hotels in the U.S. and abroad, and how the hospitality industry can benefit from risk management tools available under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (the SAFETY Act), enacted as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296.

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On March 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided an important Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Citizen Suit, LAJIM, LLC, et al. v. General Electric Co., affirming the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’s ruling finding General Electric Company (GE) liable for the contamination on summary judgment but denying  LAJIM, LLC’s request for injunctive relief “because, despite the many opportunities the court provided, plaintiffs did not offer evidence stablishing a need for injunctive relieve beyond what the company had already done in the state action.”

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On March 19, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries, affirming the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in this maritime tort case involving the availability of the “bare-metal defense.” The bare-metal defense’s basic idea is that a manufacturer who delivers a product “bare metal”—that is without the insulation or other material that must be added for the product’s proper operation—is not generally liable for injuries caused by asbestos in later-added materials.

The Court confirmed that

“maritime law’s special solicitude for the safety and protection of sailors counsels us to adopt a standard-based approach to the bare-metal defense that permits a plaintiff to recover, at least in negligence, from a manufacturer of a bare-metal product when the facts show the plaintiff’s injuries were a reasonably foreseeable result of the manufacturer’s conduct.”

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On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided the case of Vermont Railway, Inc. v. Town of Shelburne. The U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont granted the railway a permanent injunction against an ordinance passed by the Town of Shelburne, VT, that placed severe restrictions on the railway’s use of a storage facility to be used for the stockpiling and storage of large quantities of rock salt to be used in the railroad’s winter de-icing operations.

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Today, Pillsbury attorneys Julia Judish and Rebecca Carr Rizzo published their Client Alert titled How Employers Should Respond to the Trump Administration’s Proposed Overtime Rule.  The Alert discusses the Trump Administration’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for amending the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) so-called “white collar” exemptions. The new rule would formally rescind the Obama Administration’s 2016 Final Rule.

The Obama Administration 2016 Final Rule would have more than doubled the minimum salary level for executive, administrative, and professional employees to be classified as exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements (the EAP exemption) and increased the minimum salary level by a third for highly compensated employees (the HCE exemption), with automatic increases every three years (the “2016 Final Rule”).

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On February 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), “in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration and pursuant to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) of 2015, issued a Final Rule “to revise and clarify requirements for comprehensive oil spill response plans (COSRPs)” and “[e]xpands the applicability for COSRPs; modernizes the requirements for COSRPs; requires railroads to share information about high-hazard flammable train (HHFT) operations with State and tribal emergency response commissions to improve community preparedness; and incorporates by reference a voluntary standard.

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On February 26, 2019, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a joint memorandum (Memo) clarifying how state transportation departments that have been delegated responsibility under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) should implement federal directives to streamline the environmental review and approvals of major infrastructure projects. While the Memo establishes no new affirmative duties on these state agencies, it reflects yet another step in the Trump administration’s continued efforts to ensure collective adherence to its goal of expediting environmental review under NEPA.

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The U.S. has experienced a large number of natural disasters requiring the immediate assistance that only the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide. In Barbosa, et al., v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, decided March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit provided a very informative discussion of the FEMA administrative review process, and held that a fundamental provision of the Stafford Act creates a jurisdictional bar to judicial review of administrative appeals of FEMA eligibility and assistance determinations. That bar is located at 42 U.S.C. § 5148.

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Today, Pillsbury attorneys Glenn Sweatt and Julia Judish published their Client Alert titled OFCCP Conducts Town Hall Meetings for Tech Industry Contractors and Implements Program Changes. Takeaways from the Alert include:

  1. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has made several high-profile pro-contractor changes in the last 18 months
  2. As relationships with technology industry firms have not always reflected a “kinder and gentler” OFCCP, OFCCP held a town hall “listening session” in Silicon Valley for tech contractors to express their concerns
  3. Notwithstanding the outreach and public relations efforts, speaking points during these sessions were weighted between enforcement and voluntary compliance, and attendees had mixed reactions to OFCCP comments

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On February 27, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and held that international organizations, such as the World Bank, while being protected by the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945 (IOIA), are not absolutely immune from lawsuits filed in federal court because the protections afforded by the IOIA are tempered by the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The case is Jam, et al. v. International Finance Corp.

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