Articles Posted in Construction Generally

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Today, our colleagues Paula Weber and Erica Turcios Yader published their client Upending the Gig Economy? California Supreme Court’s new Dynamex test may throw a wrench into business models that rely on independent contractors. Takeaways include

  • The California Supreme Court has imposed a new test for determining who is an independent contractor or employee subject to protection under the California Wage Orders;
  • The new 3-part test, which requires employers to satisfy each element of the test, will make it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors; and
  • Workers who do not engage in an independent business and who do not provide services outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business will be deemed employees, even if they are free from the direction and control of the hiring entity.

Additional Source: Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles

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Today, our colleagues Tom Morton and Emily Bias published their Client Alert titled Impacts of the Omnibus Spending Plan on the Affordable Housing Industry, Trump’s Omnibus Spending Plan adopts two key provisions from the proposed Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act that will strengthen and expand low-income housing creditTakeaways include

  • 2018 spending plan increases housing credit ceiling by 12.5% for next 4 years and incorporates a new “Average Income Test” to qualify for low-income housing tax credits; and
  • The Average  Income Test offers potential benefits to taxpayers, but open issues include whether States will adopt this option, the mechanics of application, and difficulties in monitoring compliance.

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On May 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided the case of Daniels Sharpsmart, Inc. v. Smith, Director of the California Department of Public Health. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District to issue a preliminary injunction enjoining state health officials from enforcing, on an extraterritorial basis, provisions of the California Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA) against Daniels Sharpsmart, Inc., an Illinois-based corporation that “designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells reusable sharps container systems for the disposal of needle-inclusive biohazardous medical products” (Daniels).

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On April 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the request for an en banc rehearing in the case of Newton v. Parker Drilling Mgmt. Serv., Ltd. that was decided on February 5, 2018. In that decision, the Court of Appeals held that California’s wage and hour, and overtime laws apply to offshore drilling facilities located in offshore waters adjacent to the State of California off the coast of Santa Barbara. No Ninth Circuit judge agreed that there should be a rehearing.

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Recent federal court rulings illustrate how the courts are serving as an umpire sometimes restraining the government and litigants.

On April 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued a ruling, in Kuehl, et al., v. Sellner, et al., affirming the District Court’s decision which held that the defendants had violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in their operation of the Cricket Hollow Zoo (a licensed facility), located in Manchester, IA. The plaintiffs, which included the Animal Legal Defense Fund, sued the Sellners alleging that the conditions in which some endangered species (lemurs and tigers) were housed in the zoo amounted to a mistreatment of these endangered species.

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Accelerating air permitting decisions will be very helpful to almost everyone in business. An important Presidential environmental policy memorandum dated April 12, 2018 directing the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take specific actions to ensure efficient and cost-effective implementation of the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS, pronounced \’naks\) program, including permitting decisions for new and expanded facilities, and with respect to the Regional Haze Program, was published in the April 16, 2018 edition of the Federal Register.

Briefly, the memo, acknowledgrd that the periodic statutory review of the NAAQS for the “criteria pollutants” (ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, lead and carbon monoxide) has resulted in delayed Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP) reviews and has also had the effect of making the processing of preconstruction permits to construct new manufacturing facilities or their modification much more difficult.

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On April 9, 2018, the heads of twelve Federal agencies and departments entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) committing their respective agencies to implement certain concepts and directives from Executive Order (“EO”) 13807,[1] the Trump administration’s effort to streamline environmental review and approval of major infrastructure projects. The signatory agencies are the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, as well as the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council. These agencies frequently are involved in large-scale, complex infrastructure projects, such as traditional and renewable energy facilities and interstate pipelines; highway and bridge improvements, and transportation projects. While much of the MOU recites requirements previously set forth in the EO, it adds details and deadlines regarding interagency coordination, communication and dispute resolution in order to carry out the EO’s “One Federal Decision” concept and the goal of completing environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) within two years.

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On April 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a unanimous opinion, rejected the challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) decision to issue a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permit to the Newhall Land and Farming Company (Newhall), which is planning a large residential and commercial project in Los Angeles County near Santa Clarita, CA (the Newhall Ranch project). The Newhall Ranch project, which involves the discharge of dredge and fill materials into the Santa Clara River, has been scaled back and modified, and the Ninth Circuit held that it is consistent with the CWA, the Corps’ regulations and procedures, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Ninth Circuit provides an excellent primer on the Section 404 permitting process. The case is Friends of the Santa Clara River v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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In recent years many industries, including, by way of example only, the solar industry, have rapidly adopted text messaging to, among other things, keep in touch with their customers, to alert customers to the availability of new goods and services, and to entice customers to upgrade their systems with a promotional offer or rebate-related information. Pre-recorded calls and text messages are governed by the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) implementing rules. In recent years, thousands of nationwide consumer class actions have been filed alleging violations of the TCPA – including bare technical violations – and seeking up to $1,500 for each alleged unlawful pre-recorded call and/or text message.

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Legal arguments that the laws a state enacts which take into consideration the interests of its own citizens unfairly impede the free flow of interstate commerce are difficult to win, as demonstrated by two recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rulings. On March 29, the Second Circuit issued two Commerce Clause/Dormant Commerce Clause decisions:

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