Hurricane Harvey

The destruction left in Hurricane Harvey’s wake is unprecedented. Houston’s integral role in the global trade is enormous and the impact of this natural disaster will be felt all around the world. With the initial emergency over, clean up and recovery efforts are starting and insurance coverage, contract, and other liability issues both anticipated and otherwise will begin to surface. Haynes and Boone stands ready to provide support and assistance as the Houston business community and all companies across the globe feeling the impact begin assessing the full scope of the damage from this historic natural disaster.

We have assembled a Hurricane Harvey Rapid Response Task Force of our most experienced partners who have worked with clients through all manner of crises both natural and manmade. This group of experienced practitioners stands ready to assist in any way and will provide our clients with quick, actionable responses to any query. To that end, our task force has assembled a short list of topics to prioritize as you begin to look at areas of need, some of which may include:

  • Insurance claims and recovery
  • Employee crisis funds
  • Force majeure
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Employee welfare, compensation, and benefits
  • Prevention of price gouging (for the retail and hospitality industries)
  • Specific application of regulatory guidance of state and federal agencies pertinent to the disaster, including the Governor’s granting of the request of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) for suspension of certain of its rules

While this list is not exhaustive, it provides you with a good starting point to help focus in-house legal teams and risk managers as they begin to evaluate next steps for their organizations. Please feel free to contact partner Suzie Trigg, who is heading up our Hurricane Harvey Rapid Response Task Force, and she will ensure your questions are answered quickly.

We plan on making updates to this page offering short helpful articles on the kinds of issues that may be facing companies large and small as they tackle the myriad of legal issues Hurricane Harvey has left in its wake.

To subscribe to our Hurricane Harvey alerts and updates please register here.

Insurance Checklist

Insurance Checklist

Responding to Hurricane Harvey: A Checklist for Pursuing Corporate Insurance Claims

In the days following Hurricane Harvey, tremendous attention has been appropriately placed on individual safety and rescue for the millions affected by the storm’s devastating winds and catastrophic flooding. Now the immediate emphasis for many corporate policyholders has turned to the practical challenge of repairing damaged property and restoring business operations suspended by the storm. Here is a checklist for corporate insureds to use when pursuing claims for property damage or business interruption relating to Hurricane Harvey.

Commercial Contracts

Commercial Contracts

Force Majeure in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey continues to cause far-reaching disruptions, it is important to understand how to effectively assert or respond to assertions of force majeure. This summary outlines the steps to take to assert force majeure, and initial considerations for those who have received several notices of force majeure from counterparties.

Hurricane Harvey: Healthcare Update

Resources for Healthcare Providers in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has radically impacted every industry in southeastern Texas, including healthcare providers, who continue to analyze potential next steps in ensuring operations can resume so that they can further assist those in need of healthcare services. Below are several links to resources that may be helpful for healthcare providers attempting to navigate through their options.

Labor and Employment

Labor and Employment

Hurricane Harvey: Employer Considerations in Office Closures and Reopenings

Whenever emergency situations such as Hurricane Harvey cause office closures and such offices are subsequently reopened, Texas employers must remember several points to stay compliant with employment laws.

Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits

Special Edition Benefits Alert: Hurricane Harvey

IRS provides Retirement Plan Loan and Hardship Distribution Relief for Harvey Victims

The IRS has released Announcement 2017-11 providing relief from some of the loan and hardship distribution requirements under qualified retirement plans (including Code Section 401(a) and 403(b) plans) for the period of August 23, 2017 through January 31, 2018. The relief applies to employees or former employees either (i) whose principal residence on Aug. 23 was in one of the Texas counties identified by FEMA for individual assistance because of Hurricane Harvey, or (ii) whose place of employment on Aug. 23 was in one of those counties. The relief also applies if the employee’s or former employee’s “lineal ascendant or descendant, dependent, or spouse” lived or worked in one of those counties on Aug. 23. This relief will also apply to those living or working in other areas FEMA may identify for individual assistance in Texas or other states due to damage from Harvey. For a list of the counties FEMA has identified, click here.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance Coverage

Hurricane Harvey and Insurance Coverage: Protecting Your Statutory Rights Before September 1st

As Hurricane Harvey continues to sweep the Texas coastline and destroy property in its path, insureds should take action before September 1st to protect their statutory rights and avoid the changes made under House Bill 1774, also referred to as the “Hail Bill,” which take effect September 1, 2017.

Franchise

Franchise

Hurricane Harvey and Price Gouging: Considerations for Franchisors

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, franchisors should take action to avoid potential liability for price gouging committed by franchisees in affected areas. Price gouging occurs when a seller increases prices of goods, services or commodities to a level that is exploitive and unethical. Texas law explicitly prohibits price gouging following a natural disaster, and fines for price gouging can be up to $20,000 per violation.

Environmental

Environmental

Hurricane Harvey: TCEQ Guidance for Hurricane Harvey

By August 23, 2017 Proclamation, the Governor of the State of Texas declared that Tropical Depression (now Hurricane) Harvey poses a threat of imminent disaster in 30 counties in and around the Texas coast beginning August 23, 2017.  In response, the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in a press release,  directed regulated entities to its guidance at  https://www.tceq.texas.gov/response/hurricanes.  This guidance discusses legal ramifications of the Governor’s proclamation and steps regulated entities should and may take during this disaster.

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