March 2011 Client Alerts

April 1, 2011

Authored by: Bryan Cave

Department of Labor Extends Non-Enforcement Period for Certain Internal Claims and Appeals Requirements Applicable to Non-Grandfathered Plans Under the Affordable Care Act

On March 18, 2011, the Department of Labor issued Technical Release 2011-01 extending, with some modifications, the enforcement grace period established under DOL Technical Release 2010-02 until plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2012.  To learn more the extension of the enforcement grace period, please click here to read the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Client Service Group’s Alert published March 21, 2011.

Reporting for Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits – IRS Replaces Schedule SSA

Plan administrators are required to report certain information regarding participants who separate from service with the right to a deferred vested retirement  benefit.  In Announcement 2011-21, the IRS designated Form 8955-SSA to be used to satisfy this reporting requirement, replacing Schedule SSA.  To learn more about the filing requirements for the new form, please click here to read the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group’s Alert published March 28, 2011.

Supreme Court Says Two Exemptions are Unavailable to Companies Trying to Protect Their Information from Disclosure under FOIA

Companies frequently find that information they submit to the Federal government is sought by others — perhaps competitors — under the Freedom of Information Act.  The submitting company may be able to block the disclosure if the information falls within one of the exemptions in FOIA.  On March 1 the Supreme Court made two of those exemptions unavailable to companies.  To read more about the Court’s decision in FCC v. AT&T Inc. please  click here to read the Government Contracts Team Alert published March 3, 2011

FTC Takes a Bite Out of Cookie-Based Behavioral Advertising

On March 14, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with a behavioral advertising company that places cookies in consumers’ internet browsers to track online activities.  This settlement marks one of the agency’s first enforcement actions against a behavioral advertising company and signals that the FTC has begun to act on its repeated warnings about scrutinizing behavioral advertising more closely.  To learn more about the settlement, please click here to read the Consumer Protection Group’s Alert published March 17, 2011.

Covered Entities Are Hit Hard Under HIPAA Privacy Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services for Civil Rights issued two separate press releases about failures to comply with the privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the heavy price of non-compliance.  To learn more about the cases against Cignet Health and Mass General, please click here to read  the Life Sciences and Health Care Client Service Group’s Alert published March 4, 2011.

Providers and Suppliers Burdened by New CMS Enrollment Requirements

On February 2, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued final rules which dramatically change how providers and suppliers enroll with Medicare.  The new regulations greatly expand the reach of the enrollment requirements first proposed and signify CMS’ focus on preventing fraud and abuse before it begins.  To learn more about the final rules, please click here to read the Alert published by the Life Sciences and Health Care Client Service Group on March 21, 2011.

MedPAC Releases its Annual Medicare Payment Policy Report to Congress

On March 15, 2011, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission issued its annual Medicare Payment Policy report to congress.  The focus of the Report is the Commission’s recommendations for annual rate adjustments under Medicare’s fee-for-service payment systems.  To read more about the Report, please click here for the Alert published by the Life Sciences and Health Care Client Service Group on March 18, 2011.

FTC Settlement Strikes Chord with Affiliate Advertising Programs

On March 15, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission announced a $250,000 settlement with a Nashville-based company that sells instructional DVDs.  The complaint alleges that Legacy Learning Systems failed to monitor members of its affiliates program who endorsed one of Legacy’s DVD programs on their websites and blogs but did not disclose their financial connection with Legacy.  To learn more about the settlement, please click here to read the Alert published by the Consumer Protection Group on March 23, 2011.

In re BP Lubricants – False Patent Marking Claims Must Be Pled with Particularity

On March 15, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held “that [Federal] Rule 9(b)’s particularity requirement applies to false marking claims and that a complaint alleging false marking is insufficient when it only asserts conclusory allegations that a defendant is a ‘sophisticated company’ and ‘knew or should have known’ that the patent expired.”  To learn more about the decision, please click here to read the Intellectual Property Group’s Bulletin published March 17, 2011.

Spring 2011 Chemical and Pesticide News

To learn about  the many changes on the US regulatory front, many related to the mid-term elections and change in Congressional control,  and for articles on the Clean Water Act and several pieces with a “green” theme, please click here to read the Spring 2011 Chemical & Pesticide News published by the Environmental practice.

Efffective April 9, 2011 — New York Wage Theft Prevention Act

Effective April 9, 2011, the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act creates new obligations that will require revisions to employers’ current hiring and notification practices.  To learn more about the additional information employers must now provide employees regarding the payment of wages, please click here to read the Alert published by the Labor & Employment Client Service Group  March 25, 2011.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Draft Guidelines for the Development of Wind Energy Projects

On February 18, 2011, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published a Notice of Availability for two draft guidance documents impacting land-based wind energy developers to address a project’s potential impact upon avian wildlife, or more specifically, bald and golden eagles.  To learn more about the Guidance Documents, click here to read the Alert published by the Environmental Client Service Group on March 1, 2011.

New FBAR Regulations Significantly Expand Reporting

In late February the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury, amended regulations that govern the reporting by U.S. persons of account relationships with foreign financial institutions.  A controversial change is a significant expansion of the circumstances in which an entity must file an FBAR.  For more information, click here to read the Private Client Group’s Bulletin published  March 4, 2011.

Foreign Contractors Subject to New Tax on Contracts to Provide Services In or Supply Goods from Certain Countries

On January 2 , 2011, a new excise tax went into effect on foreign contractors that do business with the United States government or provide services in certain countries.   For more information about the new tax, please click here to read the Alert published by the Government Contracts Team on March 15, 2011.

U.S. Economic Sanctions Against Libya Cause Legal Head-Scratching

For a discussion of the U.S. executive order imposing sanctions against Libya, please click here to read a memorandum prepared by the International Trade Group dated  March 14, 2011.

EU Libyan Sanctions Council Decision and Regulation Published

The Decision of the Council of Europe implementing and expanding on the Libyan sanctions mandated by the UN Security Council was published March 3, 2011.  For more information, please click here to read in the International Regulatory Bulletin published March 3, 2011.

UK Government Holds Consultation to Improve Competition Regime

On 16 March 2011 the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills published a consultation paper seeking comments on various options for far-reaching changes to the UK competition regime.  To learn more, click here to read the Briefing published by the Antitrust and Competition Client Service Group – London on 29 March 2011.

Adequate Procedures and Joint Prosecution Guidance under the UK Bribery Act Published

On March 30, 2011, the UK Ministry of Justice issued its long awaited Guidance on procedures for commercial organizations aimed at preventing bribery by “associated persons.”  For more information, click here to read the International Regulatory Bulletin published March 31, 2011.

UK Business Immigration

The UK Government recently announced plans to dramatically restrict immigration of non-EEA/Swiss individuals wishing to work in the UK, with changes taking effect April 2011.  For an outline of the anticipated impact for UK businesses, click here to read the Briefing published by the Labor and Employee Client Service Group – London dated March 2011.

Japan to Update Export Control List to Reflect Wassenaar 2010

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry published an updated export control list on March 5, 2011.  For a summary of the changes to the list, click here to read the Asia Trade Alert published March 2011 by the International Trade Group.