Following are excerpts from newsletters recently published or soon to be published by various sections of the New Jersey State Bar Association. These briefs represent a small sampling of the informative articles available to NJSBA section members, who also have access to back issues of newsletters online at www.njsba.com by logging in using their member identification number.
Business Law Section Newsletter
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Basic Elements of Obamacare for the Small Business Client
by Douglas Lubic
If you have business clients, chances are you have had to field questions about Obamacare. With its length and the absence of many needed regulations, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the quintessential moving target. Contrary to the alarmist fantasy, bombast and vitriol spread by various media outlets, the ACA is not a nationalization of the American healthcare delivery system and health insurance industry. The purpose of this article is to give you a general understanding of what the law is supposed to do for (and to) employers and workers. There are, of course, many complexities that cannot be dealt with here, and accordingly this article must be simplistic in some respects, and vague in others. Still, you should be able to discuss the issue intelligently with your clients and help them react to the many changes in the offing.
Healthcare is a product that almost everyone needs sooner or later. In the United States, healthcare is provided by private industry (doctors, hospitals and other providers). Payment for these services is provided by the government (Medicare for the aged, Medicaid for the poor, and state-funded charity care), and by health insurance coverage generally offered by employers to their employees at a shared cost. Unfortunately the system has become unsustainably expensive and largely unavailable to increasing numbers of people. The ACA is an attempt to address some of these problems.
Labor and Employment Law Quarterly
Gatto v. United Air Lines: The Spoliation Inference in the Facebook Age
by Robert T. Szyba and Howard M. Wexler
In the employment litigation context, the advent of social media has brought to the forefront a myriad of issues that can become hotly debated, as employees release various details of their personal and professional lives into cyberspace. When these employees sue their employers, this information can be critical to the parties’ claims or defenses. The ability to effectively litigate employment matters can sometimes hinge on decisions made regarding preservation of evidence—the scope, timing, and the logistical realities involved. Decisions made regarding these issues at the beginning of, and even leading up to, litigation can have serious implications, even years after a complaint is filed.
On March 25, 2013, the Honorable Steven C. Mannion added to the jurisprudence in this area by granting the defense’s request for an adverse inference at trial against the plaintiff, Frank Gatto, due to spoliation stemming from his failure to preserve his Facebook account.
Public Utility Law Section Newsletter
BPU Focuses Attention on Utility Storm Response and Preparedness
by Alexander C. Stern
In response to the destructive storms New Jersey has experienced in the past few years, there are several new initiatives at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) addressing public utility planning, infrastructure preparedness, and storm response and recovery.
After completing a comprehensive investigation into the performance of the four electric distribution companies (EDCs) during Hurricane Irene (Aug. 28, 2011) and the Oct. 29, 2011, snowstorm, the BPU directed the EDCs to take actions that would help improve performance. On Jan. 23, 2013, two months after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey with devastating consequences, the BPU issued an order approving 103 measures that, among other things, require the EDCs to enhance their planning and preparations for storms, and to improve communications with customers, municipalities and state officials. The BPU found the measures recommended by its independent consultant, Emergency Preparedness Partnerships, were necessary to ensure continued provision of safe, adequate and proper service, to help mitigate future outages and to help develop more effective communication among the EDCs, municipal officials, customers and the BPU during extreme weather events. Most of the ordered actions or plans are to be completed by Sept. 2013.