News

COVID-19 Health & Safety Officer (CHASO) Designation

May 27, 2020

After reading New Bedford Mayor John Mitchell’s recent press conference in Southcoast Today , we are left to ponder its impact upon the commercial fishing industry in New Bedford, MA.

The conference occurred at AHEAD, a headwear manufacturing company in New Bedford. Mayor Mitchell, recognizing the importance of manufacturing and industrial jobs in New Bedford, advocated for a return to work and safety in the workplace. The plan designates that a COVID 19 Health & Safety Officer (CHASO) must be appointed for all of these industries, which include the maritime industry, as workers slowly begin to return to work.

This could be a great opportunity for the fishing industry to acclimate, as other industries, in protecting its employees, namely commercial fishermen. Historically, commercial fishermen and woman have not been protected with such privileges. In fact, there is no official regulatory agency that protect those employees from work place injustices and hazards. There is far more protection, i.e. NOAA/National Marine Fisheries, of the various species that the commercial fishermen harvest, namely ground fish, scallops lobster etc., than for the actual commercial fisherman.

This minor step, if enacted in this industry, could go a long way for future protections which have been afforded other industries for many years.

If you are a maritime worker, or a family member of a maritime worker and feel your rights or safety have been compromised please contact us and we would be happy to review your legal concerns.

Remote Notary Services in MA to Accommodate Social Distancing

May 5, 2020

In this new age of social distancing, working from home and videoconferencing, many of us are left wondering how we are going to get our important documents witnessed or notarized.

Well there’s good news.  Massachusetts has passed an emergency bill (known as S. 2882) allowing remote notarization of the vast array of legal documents be completed via video-conference.

The emergency bills proposes several easy steps to facilitate the remote notarization process:

  • The individual (i.e. signatory, witness) and the notary must physically be located in MA
  • The individual shows proof of his/or her identification (i.e. MA driver’s license, passport) to the notary prior to signing
  • Upon the notary’s review of the identification presented, the individual signs the document(s)
  • The individual is responsible for delivering the original document(s) (i.e. courier, overnight mail), including a copy of his/her identification, to the notary. The parties shall agree, prior to signing, the most effective way to deliver the originals to the notary
  • Upon receipt of the original document(s), the notary and individual will have a second video-conference to confirm the individual’s identity and notarize the document(s)

Additional steps confirming the authenticity of the remote notarization process will be completed by the supervising attorney by the signing of an affidavit including:

  • The individual’s identification was authenticated
  • The recording of the video conference was obtained and will be kept for ten years
  • The individual was present within the Commonwealth at the time of signing
  • That the individual(s) present for the signing where made aware of the relationship between the individual(s) and notary

When the above criteria has been met, the notarized document(s) will be acknowledged as if it were signed and notarized in person.

At FWY we are here to help make the process easier for you.  Please contact us today if you are in need a notary!

Boat to Table a New Option for Fisherman During Time of Covid

April 29, 2020

As I walk the docks of New Bedford, MA, as I have for the last 35 years, at first glance it’s an eerie silence. A majority of the vessels, scalloper’s, draggers, clammer’s , lobster, sit idle. Yet not far from Pier III and the Cement dock sits a huge refrigerated freezer storage container at the infamous Knuckleheads Restaurant & Bar. It is being filled with scallops. So on second glance, not all the vessels are idle at the dock. They are beginning to venture out and resume their profession.

Fisherman in New Bedford, and throughout New England are still waking before the sunrise and practicing their craft as they have for hundreds of years in this very port and elsewhere. These fishermen and woman have been historically independent, much like the cowboys of the Old West. In fact a recent FOX TV News story focused on Boat to Table in the port of Portsmouth, NH. Apparently commercial fishermen in that port are also plying their trade despite severe restrictions imposed by pandemic coronavirus, COVID-19. They are on the front line catching seafood and selling it directly to the consumer, hence, Boat to Table. This concept has mimicked the successful Farm to Table concept which has been very successful for farmers. It may not only keep the fishermen working and providing for their families, it very well could be what the future may hold in store.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Update: Three New Public Benefit Programs

April 23, 2020

In our goal to keep you informed we want to let readers know that there is an unemployment update and the online application is now available at the link below.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency

You can complete the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application by visiting here. The application is mobile-friendly and can be completed in under 30 minutes if you have the appropriate documentation.

Those applying need the following:

Applicants will need to provide the following information:
• Your social security number
• If you are not a citizen of the United States, your A Number (USCIS Number)
• Your residential address
• Your mailing address (if different from residential address)
• Your telephone number
• Your email address
• Your birth date
• Your wage records for 2019, which includes:
• 1099 forms
• Pay stubs
• Bank statements
• The social security number(s) and date(s) of birth for your dependent child(ren)
• If you want to use direct deposit for payment, your bank account and routing numbers

Check here for a list of eligibility requirements

Nursing Homes and COVID-19: What to Consider When Filing a Lawsuit

April 21, 2020

Among the many tragedies of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, the recent news of the virus running seemingly unrestrained in nursing homes and long-term care facilities is certainly one of the more sobering headlines. The media provides, and rightly so, daily reminders of beleaguered yet heroic healthcare workers – in all types of locations – doing their best to treat patients in what are clearly some untenable circumstances. By now we know it is being done with less than adequate protective equipment, requiring life and death decisions without, it appears, full knowledge of what they are fighting and how it is spread.

With this backdrop it seems difficult to lay blame on those same overworked nursing home medical providers for the sickness or death of a family member. In many instances these facilities have been caring for that same family member for years, and have even become a trusted part of the family dynamic as they provide care, compassion and updates when you can’t be there. Is it reasonable to hold them more accountable for the worst outcomes when they are caring for the most at risk demographic in terms of contracting the virus?

As with any lawsuit, suing a nursing home should be approached on a case-by-case basis. Coronavirus differs from other nursing home illnesses and the fact that a patient contracted this virus will not always point to substandard care. However, nursing homes across the country all have to follow the same federal regulatory requirements because they accept Medicare and Medicaid patients. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published specific guidelines as early as March 9, 2020 to direct the handling of COVID-19.

Several of these guidelines focus on who is let into a facility. In fact, the first lawsuit of its kind related to the coronavirus outbreak has just been filed against Life Care Center in Washington, citing that the facility “lacked a clear plan of action leading to a systemic failure.” The complaint also cites that a Mardi Gras party was held with visitors being allowed to come in and out of the building, a physician who was not on the premises for an extended duration, and that it took the facility seventeen days to report the Covid-19 cases to the proper authorities, despite a requirement of 24 hours.

This scenario seems compellingly negligent but the reality is nobody is entirely sure, given the resources and guidance currently available, if nursing homes will be held liable. This lawsuit, and the many that will likely follow, will all have the burden to prove that in the chaotic reality that is this pandemic, the nursing home knowingly diverged from their standard protocols and procedures, ignored the CMS and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and allowed confusion and missteps to occur.

Things to focus on when considering if you have grounds to file a lawsuit against a nursing home are not so much the fact that this seemingly unavoidable infection entered your facility, but more on how the facility responded to the infection. Were the proper policies and procedures in place, did they have a proper infection control program, and did they follow the federal regulations?

Over the years we have represented numerous victims of medical malpractice and negligence and we understand the intricacies involved in this type of litigation. Our firm is ready and able to assist you if you or your loved one has been exposed to the coronavirus due to the neglect of the nursing home taking care of them. We will fight for your rights, keep you informed, and provide you the personal representation that your trust in us deserves. Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your situation and talk about your options.

Download a copy of this article.

View FWY’s COVID-19 Stimulus Package Webinar Recordings

April 15, 2020

In an effort to keep you informed on the ever changing landscape related to the Coronavirus pandemic we are all facing, FWY recently presented two live Zoom Webinars entitled, COVID-19 Stimulus Package/CARES Act: What You Need to Know.

The webinars were hosted by partners Mike Flynn, Lori Wirkus and Matthew Cianflone and hopefully they were able to answer some of your most pressing questions and provide some direction as to your best next steps.

For those of you who attended the webinars on April 13, 2020, or for those who were unable to attend but would like access to what was discussed, we are providing links to both recordings below.  Feel free to re-watch, or share with someone you think would benefit from the information provided. We will be updating our resources and information as we progress further along in these uncertain times.

View the recording of the 10am webinar here 

View the recording of the 2pm webinar here 

In addition, we have put together a summary of FAQs as a resource to help guide you through some of this evolving information.

View FAQ Summary

*Note: This does not constitute legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete, comprehensive, or up-to-date,  as reporting and instructions develop rapidly.  Please refer to the appropriate government resources for the most up to date information.

OSHA Guidelines for COVID-19 in the Workplace

April 14, 2020

“To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for all employers to plan now for COVID-19.” (Occupational Health and Safety Administration)  

FWY is providing a link to the the following OSHA Guidelines as a reference.  Please contact OSHA with any questions you may have about these guidelines or how to implement them. If you have questions on any legal matters regarding these guidelines, or any other matter, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Review the Guidelines Here

How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.

Zoom Webinar – COVID-19 Stimulus Package/CARES Act: What You Need To Know

April 10, 2020

FWY is providing an in-depth Zoom Webinar on the recent government stimulus package.  If you are feeling anxious or confused about what this all means for you or your family we encourage you to join us on Monday,  April 13, 2020 at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. – whichever is more convenient for you – to explain and answer many of the questions you probably have.

You do not need to be a client to join the webinar – all are welcome.  Please click the link below to view more details as well as a link to the webinar itself.

View the link to the Webinar Here 

In addition, we have put together a summary of FAQs as a resource to help guide you through some of this evolving information.

View FAQ summary

Note: This does not constitute legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete, comprehensive, or up-to-date,  as reporting and instructions develop rapidly.  Please refer to the appropriate government resources for the most up to date information.

COVID-19 Live Zoom Webinar – Save the Date

April 6, 2020

As we are sure you are aware by now, the recently released information on the Coronavirus Stimulus Package/CARES Act involves a great deal of information.  If you are feeling confused on what it all means for you, and the best next steps, we are here to help.

At FWY, standing by our clients in times of need is one of the pillars of who we are as a firm.  As you and your loved ones are trying to navigate through this unprecedented situation, we are here for you.  In fact, we have assembled our own COVID-19 team to help break it all down for you.

On Monday, August 13th, FWY will be holding live Zoom webinars at two separate times:

  • 10:00 A.M.
  •   2:00 P.M.

There will be more information to follow and if you are not familiar with Zoom, or how to use it, we urge you to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

In addition, we have put together a summary of FAQs as a resource to help guide you through some of this evolving information.  This does not constitute legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete, comprehensive, or up-to-date,  as reporting and instructions develop rapidly.  Please refer to the appropriate government resources for the most up to date information.

View FAQ summary

COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

April 6, 2020

At FWY, standing by our clients in times of need is one of the pillars of who we are as a firm.  As you and your loved ones are trying to navigate through this unprecedented situation, we are here for you.  In fact, we have assembled our own COVID19 team, headed up by managing partner Lori Wirkus, who stands ready to help.  Please do not hesitate to call Lori, partner Matt Cianflone or Client Services Coordinator Jim Comfort with any questions.

In addition, we have put together a summary of FAQs as a resource to help guide you through some of this evolving information.  This does not constitute legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete, comprehensive, or up-to-date,  as reporting and instructions develop rapidly.  Please refer to the appropriate government resources for the most up to date information.

View FAQ summary

Check this link for a recent update to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program