On March 13, 2020, the President issued an emergency declaration under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This notice instructed the Treasury Department to provide relief from certain payment deadlines to those adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code 7508A(a). This Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-17, outlining the terms of this relief: More ›Share
Last Friday, March 13, 2020, I warned those seeking land use approvals or building permits for a new or existing healthcare use in New Castle County, Delaware that the Department of Land Use has imposed new guidelines on doing business with the department in the wake of the coronavirus. Among other measures, Board of Adjustment and Planning Board hearings are now suspended until April 10, 2020. As of late Friday, the New Castle County Council, which is the final stop for approving major land development plans and rezoning ordinances, cancelled the Land Use Committee meeting for March 17, 2020. As of now, a Council meeting is still scheduled for March 31, 2020. As potential disruptions to real estate project timelines and ability to move forward pile up, it’s time to pause and consider how to make these and future barriers less impactful to a project. It may not be possible to avoid all impact, but like the spread of the Coronavirus itself, it may be possible to ‘flatten the curve’ so that the delays do not spike suddenly into an irreversible problem for a project already, or soon to be, underway. More ›Share
Seeking land use approvals or building permits for a new or existing healthcare use in New Castle County? The Department of Land Use has imposed new guidelines on doing business with the department in the wake of the coronavirus that could impact your timelines and ability to move forward. Significantly, all land-use hearings are suspended until April 10, 2020. For new applications, that might mean delays, and will certainly mean crowded agendas in May. The rest of the guidance is attached. If you have concerns over a specific project, our expert land-use attorneys are ready to help. Stay safe and healthy!Share
Delaware Government and Legislative Update: State of Emergency Declared and Legislature to Remain Recessed in Response to COVID-19
The Delaware General Assembly will not return for Joint Finance Committee hearings on March 17, 2020. The current legislative recess is extended until at least March 24, 2020. As of this Friday, March 13, 2020, Legislative Hall is closed to the public. A full list of cancelled legislative meetings is here: https://legis.delaware.gov/. If you have business before the General Assembly this session, attorney Kimberly Hoffman would be glad to talk with you about these uncharted waters. More ›Share
Proactive Legal Steps to Consider and Legislative Things to Watch as Delaware Sees its First COVID-19 Case Confirmed
Today, Delaware lost its status as the only state on the east coast without a COVID-19 case. Even before the public announcement was made, the University of Delaware moved all of its classes online, the Health Law section of the Delaware State Bar Association postponed its CLE, businesses made contingency plans to move its workforce remote, and the state set up an online resource center for all the latest and greatest information and a hotline (1-866-408-1899). The Speaker and Pro Tem put out guidance that changes to the legislative session calendar may be necessary as well, noting, “Since this is a shifting situation, we must remain flexible and our response could change depending on the circumstances. The most important thing we can do now is prepare for a variety of possibilities, up to and including the potential postponement of session. To that end, we are currently discussing the logistics of implementing such a decision and how staff could work from home, if necessary.” More ›Share
Morris James LLP Partner A. Kimberly Hoffman has been elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Delaware Business Roundtable, of which she has been a regular member for over five years. Kim will join a committee of eleven Delaware business leaders tasked with steering the Roundtable forward in its mission to enhance the quality of life in Delaware. Last Friday, Kim jumped into her new duties by giving a presentation to the Roundtable’s “Ready in Six” coalition at CSC headquarters on Lancaster Pike. Her presentation was entitled “Ready in Four,” and took her fellow coalition members through her work as a land use attorney to approve the former GM Boxwood plant site for a new logistics center in just four months. The Ready in Six initiative seeks to streamline Delaware’s permitting process and regulations in an effort to attract jobs, talent and investment to the state. Governor John Carney has included a $10 million dollar site readiness fund in this year’s state budget. “Replicating the Boxwood approval timing on a similar-sized project would be a heavy lift, but the system could be improved to make that easier." More ›Share
Morris James is pleased to announce that 48 of its lawyers in 18 practice areas were voted by their peers as “Top Lawyers” in a survey conducted by Delaware Today for the November 2019 edition. Kim Hoffman was recognized in the Healthcare Law category. The overall number of recognized attorneys was the highest of any Delaware law firm for the second consecutive year. More ›Share
Delaware Superior Court Enforces Noncompetition Covenant Against Physician Placed on “Garden Leave” Following Notice of voluntary Termination of Employment
The Delaware Superior Court has rejected the effort of a physician, bound by a noncompetition covenant with his former practice group, to argue that the covenant was unenforceable because the practice placed him on “garden leave” during the final four-and-a-half months of the contract’s mandatory six-month notice period. During a typical garden leave, the departing physician would get paid, but he or she could not practice.
The Court ruled that the physician’s effort to repudiate his noncompetition obligations by bringing suit against his former practice constituted an anticipatory breach of the physician’s obligation to pay liquidated damages as a result of going into prohibited competition with the practice following his departure. This case sets a new Delaware precedent, as no Delaware court has formerly decided garden leave could be used when the covenant did not authorize it expressly, but rather gave the practice broad enforcement authority. More ›Share
Morris James was named a top workplace for mid-sized employers in Delaware for the twelfth consecutive year. This year's top workplace honor makes Morris James the only law firm in Delaware to be consistently top-ranked in the mid-sized employers category for the past twelve years. More ›Share
Delaware’s Death with Dignity/End of Life Options/Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate Continues with House Bill 140
Representative Paul Baumbach yesterday re-introduced his “End of Life Options” legislation as House Bill 140. This marks the third iteration of the bill, which began as House Bill 150 “Death with Dignity” in 2015, which was re-filed in 2017 as House Bill 160 “End of Life Options.” While there have been tweaks along the way, the major fundamentals have remained the same – a process for a patient expected to die within six months to self-administer medications to end their life. The question now is if there are enough new “yes” votes amongst the fifteen new legislators to clear a chamber, and maybe even move the bill all the way to Governor Carney.
Each new filing has moved the bill a little further towards becoming law. In 2015, Rep. Baumbach was the only bill sponsor in either chamber; the bill was last tabled in House Health Committee after a hearing. There it stayed until it was removed from the books along with every other bill that failed to make it through the process to then-Governor Markell’s signature before the election.
In 2017, Rep. Baumbach won re-election and re-filed the bill, with some adjustments, and was joined by two House colleagues, Rep. Earl Jaques and Rep. Bryon Short, as well as three Senators, Sen. Henry as the Senate prime and Sens. Hansen and Sokola joining as well. Unlike its predecessor, House Bill 160 did come out of committee. Although committee votes are not publicly-recorded by member, the vote tally itself is interesting: one favorable, five on its merits, and two unfavorable. There were fourteen members of the committee, so eight votes were needed, and eight votes it received, with two making the unusual move of voting to release unfavorably, to allow the bill to reach the floor for a debate. More ›Share
Morris James is pleased to announce that attorney Edward M. McNally has been recognized in JD Supra's fourth-annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The award recognizes popular authors (from among 50,000) for the visibility and engagement their thought leadership earned them last year. Mr. McNally has been recognized for the second consecutive year in the category of Mergers and Acquisitions. More ›Share
As Delaware courts test the anti-discrimination provision of the medical marijuana statute, the state legislature has been taking a hard look at marijuana as well. Legalization, decriminalization, and expansion to the medical marijuana program are all on the table.
Regarding the potential for Delaware legalizing recreational marijuana, we renew our 2018 prediction that this is still not likely in 2019. Especially with the retirement of both the House and Senate champions at the end of last session and a failed floor vote in the House in June. That said, it is possible that with so many new faces in legislative hall, fifteen out of sixty-two, there are surprise support votes that come to light. No bill has been filed, but one is anticipated.
As the legalization pathway or non-pathway becomes clearer, the legislature is taking another pass through decriminalization and medical marijuana.
First, Senate Bill 45 extends previous adult decriminalization to persons under the age of 21. If passed, the penalty for possession, use, or consumption of a “personal use” quantity of marijuana would go from criminal to civil.
As frustration builds on the legalization side, pressure also mounts to streamline and enlarge the medical marijuana program. While new dispensaries are opening, now numbering four around the state, the statutory pathways to qualify for a card for their use are being revisited. More ›Share
As Joe Biden once quipped, “[d]on’t tell me what you value; show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” January 24th is budget day in Delaware. The day to see Governor Carney’s values.
The Governor gave his address at 11 am at the State Archives to a packed room of journalists, legislators, and stakeholders. That afternoon, the two “money bills” representing the state budget were filed. So, let’s talk healthcare and the Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB) of $4.433 billion. More ›Share
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts estimates that federal court operations will remain funded through Jan. 31, 2019. The extension has been achieved by deferring non-critical operating costs and the usage of court filing fees and other available funds.
Court System Notices
- US Courts: Judiciary Has Funds to Operate Through Jan. 31
- DE District Court: Notice Regarding Court Operations During Lapse in Appropriations
- DE Bankruptcy Court: Notice Regarding Court Operations During Lapse in Appropriations
Litigation and filings will continue in Delaware during the federal government shutdown. If you have questions, please contact our Director of Client Relations Dawn Sheiker (302.888.6804; firstname.lastname@example.org).Share
Delaware Governor John Carney delivered his third State of the State address yesterday, January 17th, in the Senate Chamber. For the healthcare world, what was in it was just as interesting as what was not in it. Highlights included re-emphasis of his existing benchmark proposal as well as Lt. Gov. Hall-Long’s work on mental health and addiction. Looking forward, he signaled a shift in focus to promoting healthy lifestyles, stating support to “raise the age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21.” We’ll unpack these a little more below, but interestingly what didn’t make it in there was any talk about the outcomes of the Medicaid Buy-In Task Force (to not buy the lede – Delaware may become an individual mandate state) or the Primary Care Collaborative, both of which released major reports just a few weeks ago. More ›Share