By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Friday, April 10th, 2020
Although many of us are quarantined at home these days, the gears of the legal world are still turning. Here’s our gathering of recent notable news and legal developments:
Our Farm Office is open Monday Night! Join us for the Farm Office’s live online office hours this Monday night from 8—9:30 p.m. Our team of experts will provide updates on the Paycheck Protection Program and the dairy economy and discuss COVID-19 macro-economic and export impacts, BWC dividends, property tax concerns, potential legal issues arising from COVID-19, and other issues you want to discuss. Register at https://go.osu.edu/farmofficelive.
What’s the deal with dicamba? Our partner, the National Agricultural Law Center, is hosting a free webinar on dicamba litigation on Wednesday, April 15 at noon EST. “The Deal with Dicamba: An Overview of Dicamba Related Litigation,” will feature attorney Brigit Rollins, who will review each of the dicamba lawsuits, the claims made by the plaintiffs, and what the outcome of each suit could mean for dicamba use in the United States. Go to https://nationalaglawcenter.org/webinars/dicamba/ to learn more.
Walmart sued for employee’s COVID-19 death. We’ve been wondering when we’d start seeing COVID-19 lawsuits, and the answer is now. On Monday, the estate of a Walmart employee in Illinois who died from COVID-19 sued the company for negligence and wrongful death. The complaint alleges that Walmart failed to properly clean the store or provide employees with masks, gloves, antibacterial wipes, and other protective equipment, knew that employees were exhibiting COVID-19 signs and symptoms, and did not screen new employees for COVID-19. A second employee at the same store has also died of the virus. Read the complaint at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/sites/aglaw/files/site-library/COVID%20Walmart%20lawsuit.pdf
Shell eggs go to the market. The FDA issued guidance that eases up packaging and labeling requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic for shell eggs sold directly to consumers in retail food establishments. The agency explained that it made the change because plenty of shell eggs are available to meet increased consumer demands, but properly labeled retail packaging for the eggs is not. See the guidance at: https://www.fda.gov/media/136671/download
EPA’s glyphosate approval is challenged. Glyphosate, used in the weed killer Roundup, is in the news again. This time, the controversy surrounds the EPA’s decision in January 2020 to allow glyphosate to continue being used in the interim while the agency conducts its mandatory 15-year re-approval review. Although EPA has yet to make its re-approval decision, two groups of plaintiffs have petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the invalidation of the EPA’s decision allowing continued use in the interim. Plaintiffs argue that the decision violates both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Endangered Species Act because the EPA has not gathered enough information to prove that glyphosate is safe for humans, the environment, and endangered species. You can read the petitions at https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/glyphosate-petition-for-review-20200320.pdf and http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/01-petition-for-review–final_35405.pdf and EPA’s interim decision at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-01/documents/glyphosate-interim-reg-review-decision-case-num-0178.pdf
No rehearing for RFS litigation. We reported previously that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held the EPA in violation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) when it granted RFS blending waivers to three small refineries. While the Trump administration did not appeal the court’s decision, two of the oil refiners requested a rehearing before the full panel of Tenth Circuit judges. This week, those requests were rejected by the Tenth Circuit, starting a 90-day period during which the refiners may petition for a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
ODNR suspends hunting and fishing license sales for non-residents. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced this week that it is “temporarily suspending the sale of non-resident hunting and fishing licenses until further notice” to further discourage travel into the state. ODNR has no set date to lift the suspension; it will be in place as long as state COVID-19 orders dictate. Read ODNR’s press release at http://ohiodnr.gov/news/post/odnr-to-temporarily-suspend-sale-of-non-resident-hunting-and-fishing-licenses
BWC gives dividends and deferrals. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation board decided yesterday to pay dividends to employers for BWC premiums to the tune of up to $1.6 billion. Checks will go out to employers later in April, and will equal approximately 100% of the BWC premiums paid in their 2018 policy years. The agency is also allowing employers to delay unpaid premium installments due for March through May until June 1, 2020, and will not lapse coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the Frequently Asked Questions at https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/downloads/blankpdf/COVID-19-BWCFAQs.pdf