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BMD Obtains Supreme Court Victory on Behalf of Sterilite of Ohio, LLC

Columbus, Ohio – On August 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued its opinion in Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC, Slip Op. No. 2020-Ohio-4193. The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision reversed an Ohio Court of Appeals ruling that had reinstated a putative class action against Sterilite brought by a group of current and former employees claiming that Sterilite’s use of “direct observation” urinalysis screening violated their common law right to privacy.

BMD originally obtained dismissal of the case in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, which was reversed by a decision of the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals in August 2018. Following the Fifth District’s adverse ruling, BMD successfully petitioned the Supreme Court of Ohio to accept jurisdiction and hear the case. BMD partner Daniel Rudary argued Sterilite’s appeal to the Supreme Court on January 28, 2020.

In its decision reversing the appellate court, the Supreme Court majority adopted BMD’s argument that the plaintiff employees consented to drug testing under the “direct observation” method when they voluntarily produced urine samples while being observed by a same-sex monitor in a designated restroom facility. The Supreme Court also reaffirmed Ohio’s long standing rule of employment-at-will, holding that because “Sterilite had the legal right to terminate appellees’ employment at any time, appellees’ argument that their consent was involuntary because of their fear of termination necessarily fails.”

BMD Litigation Member John Childs and Partner Daniel Rudary represented Sterilite before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Their brief to the Supreme Court can be read here, and Attorney Rudary’s January 28, 2020 oral argument can be viewed here.

See additional coverage on the decision in the ABA Journal and Bloomberg News.

Vaccination Considerations for Employers

Today, three Covid-19 vaccines have tested as highly effective (90%+ efficacy) and are advancing in the process for emergency use. This is especially welcome news in Ohio, which has skyrocketing cases and our strategic response has been to turn the entire state into the small town of Bomont with strict curfews and bans on social gatherings.

Did You Receive More than $750,000 in Provider Relief Funds?

The Provider Relief Funds (“PRF”) - authorized under the CARES Act - has been a vital tool for health care providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These funds have allowed providers to stay open and continue to offer care during these pressing times. While helpful, these funds do come with several important obligations. First, fund recipients are required to comply with certain record-keeping requirements as well as comply with certain balance billing prohibitions. See our Client Alert. Second, fund recipients are required to report their intent, use of funds, and other data elements, which helps promote transparency to the federal government. Please see our Client Alert on provider relief fund reporting requirements. Third, and perhaps a new concept for many providers, fund recipients of more than $750,000 must undergo a “single audit” to ensure program compliance and appropriate use of funds.

Important Updates Every Provider Should Know: Information Blocking

In December 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act (“Cures Act”) which: (1) authorized funding for the National Institutes of Health to promote medical research and drug development, (2) implemented provisions aimed at addressing the prevention and treatment of mental illness and substance abuse, and (3) reformed certain standards of the Medicare program and federal tax laws to foster healthcare access and quality improvement.

PPP Update: Loan Necessity Questionnaires

On October 26, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) published a notice in the Federal Register which foreshadowed the release of two new forms seeking information from for-profit and nonprofit organizations that received Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans of $2 million or more. If approved, the SBA would use information from these forms to evaluate and determine whether economic uncertainty made a PPP loan request necessary.

Exposure to COVID-19 Flow Chart

Exposure to COVID-19 Flow Chart