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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.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity: Optimism for the Construction Industry

Looking for good news? If so, you are not alone. Aside from the collective mental, physical and emotional human toll imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, entire sectors of the economy have been ravaged, and old, familiar ways of doing business have been disrupted. Although deemed essential, the construction industry has not been immune to interruption and uncertainty during these unprecedented times. Amid new health and safety concerns, coupled with financial uncertainty, progress on projects has slowed, and the start dates for a number of new projects slated to begin in 2020 have been deferred. However, resilience has always been a trademark of contractors, subcontractors and other industry professionals. Reports indicate that while the construction industry lost more than one million jobs February through April, at least 600,000 of those jobs had been gained back by the end of June.

Yard Sign Do’s and Don’ts: How to Avoid Legal Challenges to Municipal Sign Codes this Election Season

As the nation heads into the tail end of the 2020 general election, municipalities will inevitably face challenges as they seek to regulate the seasonal proliferation of yard signs on residential property. While the matter may seem trifling, a seemingly benign yet content-based sign ordinance can result in significant legal exposure for municipalities that have not heeded recent Supreme Court decisions on content neutrality.