July 3, 2020 Update - Mandatory Face Mask Orders
This week the state of Kansas and the city of Kansas City, Missouri has joined the national trend to require face masks in all public places. Kansas Governor Executive Order 20-52 effective July 3, 2020 can be seen by clicking here, while the Kansas City, Missouri order effective June 29, 2020 can be seen by clicking here.
April 29, 2020 Update on COVID-19
Johnson County Recovery Plan
Today the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners will be meeting to discuss the proposed recovery plan that will provide for the phased-in reopening of Johnson County. The plan will then come up for vote for approval on Thursday during its regular business session. Click on the links to see the draft Recovery Plan and the Table showing the draft phase-in which has been proposed. The phase-in is very similar to there Guidelines for Opening America Again issued by the White House on April 17, 2020, which is also attached. The plan is dependent upon downward trajectory of coronavirus cases over 14-day periods and is set in three phases. It is anticipated that Phase One will be implemented on May 1, 2020 when the Kansas stay at home order expires.
Kansas Stay at Home Expires May 1, 2020
On March 24, 2019, Governor Laura Kelly entered a state-wide stay at home order which superseded all local stay at home orders. That directive was embodied in two executive orders - Executive Order 20-15 and Executive Order 20-16. The order was to be in effect until April 19, 2020 unless otherwise modified, terminated or extended. On April 15, 2020 Governor Kelly extended the stay at home orders to May 3, 2020; however, since the statewide State of Disaster Emergency expires on May 1, 2020, Governor Kelley modified her order by Executive Order 20-18, which correctly states the May 1st expiration.
The state of Kansas has also established a dedicated website to address COVID-19, which contains information and resources, and is found at:
Missouri Order Remains set to Expire on May 3, 2020
On April 16, 2020, the Missouri stay at home order was extended from April 24, 2020 to May 3, 2020. As such, unless restricted further by local orders, most Missouri communities and businesses will reopen at that time, though the process of reopening is not yet announced. Interestingly, Governor Parson extended Missouri’s State of Emergency until June 15, 2020 by way of his Executive Order 20-09 entered on April 24, 2020.
Kansas City, Missouri Plan to Re-Open Starts May 6, 2020
On April 15, 2020 Mayor Quinton Lucas extended the Kansas City, Missouri stay at home order until May 15, 2020. It was entered on March 24, 2020 and was originally set to expire on April 24, 2020. So, despite the statewide order expiring sooner, Kansas City, Missouri will be required to honor the tighter restrictions until May 15th.
Just today the Mayor released the plan to begin re-opening Kansas City, and has published a FAQ of the guidelines to be in place. The effective date is May 6, 2020.
Other COVID-19 News
Businesses Seeking Protection from Lawsuits – various business groups have been requesting the federal government to make legislative changes to protect them from litigation that might arise from employees being exposed to COVID-19 as the businesses operate under the restrictions and begin to reopen. According to the Washington Post, the White House Counsel’s Office is reviewing that matter at this time.
States Suing China – Missouri was the first state to file a federal lawsuit against China accusing it of being responsible for the severity of the pandemic, and seeks damages resulting from its spread. That case was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri. Mississippi has also filed a similar lawsuit. There have been multiple class action cases filed against China by private groups. Legislation is being proposed that would allow individuals to file such actions which are currently barred under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally prohibits lawsuits against foreign sovereign nations.
If you would like to see the complaint filed by Missouri, please let me know and I can send you a copy.
Texas Judge Orders Face Masks – on April 22, 2020 a judge in Harris County, Texas ordered residents to wear face masks in public for 30 days or be subject to a $1,000 fine. That order drew a lot of pushback, including from the state’s lieutenant governor and other government officials. A lawsuit quickly followed to contest the legality of that order. The Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, has also stated that the order cannot impose a fine as it provides, since his executive order supersedes any local order, and he has made it clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine for not wearing a mask.
Coronavirus Notice – March 29, 2020 Update
The Governor of the state of Kansas has now entered a state-wide stay at home order. This order supersedes all local stay at home orders – so the orders entered by Johnson County, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas and all other Kansas counties or cities are now replaced by this order.
Governor Kelley actually entered two new orders on March 24, 2020. First is Executive Order 20-15, which establishes the Kansas Essential Function Framework (“KEFF”). Next is Executive Order 20-16 which establishes the state-wide “stay home” provisions, in conjunction with the KEFF categories.
Under Executive Order 20-15, the essential infrastructure elements for the state are identified, which follows closely the identification of critical infrastructure workers determined by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Kansas KEFF establishes four functional areas, and then drills-down on what is included in each area. The four areas are “Connect,” “Distribute,” “Manage” and “Supply.”
“Connect” covers areas such as cable and internet services, satellite, radio, wireless and landline services. “Distribute” covers the provision of utilities services and cargo and passenger transport. “Manage” includes elections, media outlets, law enforcement, public works, governmental functions, preservation of constitutional rights, physical infrastructure (roads and construction), capital markets and banking, insurance, and medical services. “Supply” deals with such items as fuel production (gas, electric), agricultural and food services, housing operation and maintenance, provision of IT services and water services.
Executive Order 20-16 then sets forth the actual stay home restrictions, and is meant to provide a uniform set of restrictions over all of Kansas. It looks a lot like the orders issued recently by the various local county and city governments, but does have some differences. Importantly, it specifically provides that the local governments cannot make any provisions that are “more or less restrictive stay at home orders” as contained in the state order; however the local governments are allowed to add essential functions.
Here are the highlights of Executive Order 20-16:
Personal essential activities are still allowed, but are not as closely defined as in the local orders. People are to stay at home at all times unless performing an essential activity, which is defined to be:
Obtain food, medicine and other household necessities
Seek medical care
Care for children, family members, pets or a vulnerable person in another location
Engage in outdoor activities, honoring the 6’ distance from others and with limits of 10 in any gathering (though this does not restrict families from gather privately that would not comply with this provision)
This provision is almost identical to the previous local orders, but can be construed as being less restrictive, such as for its omission of examples of what is “discouraged”
Perform the essential functions identified in the KEFF
Persons are not required to carry proof of authorizations to perform these functions
If any of these functions can be performed at home, they must be unless it would disrupt the provision of the essential function
The KEFF are listed here, with further details on what is included (in addition to the general list set forth above), such as:
Maintaining supply chains
Operate gas stations and associated convenience stores
Delivery of mail, packages, food, groceries, beverages and other cargo
Sell parts and maintain vehicles
Perform or attend religious services and activities
Perform legal, accounting, insurance and real estate services
Maintain and repair roads and buildings
Provide banking, funding and investment services
Operate laundry services
Operate restaurants but only takeout or delivery
Sell groceries and alcoholic beverages
Operate and maintain rental, student, senior and single family housing
Local orders have included several categories of “essential business” that may or may not be construed under the state-wide order at this time (though the localities are allowed to add to the list, so they likely will be included)
Local golf courses have been opened and allowed to operate, so long as social distancing has been followed, though many outdoor tennis and pickleball courts have been closed – this might be in conflict with the new state-wide order, allowing the tennis and pickleball courts to re-open – and local authorities cannot enforce any “more or less restrictive” provisions
The state-wide order is set to expire on April 19, 2020 unless rescinded or extended. The local orders are set to expire on April 23, 2020 (unless rescinded or extended), so it is possible that the local orders could again control if the state-wide order ends
At this time, Missouri has not entered a state-wide stay at home order, despite the fact that its coronavirus spread is more than three times greater than that of Kansas. As such, the local orders issued by Missouri governmental agencies continue in force and effect at this time.
According to the latest CDC statistics issued on March 28, 2020, the U.S. has 103,321 reported cases, with total deaths of 1.668. Various media sources have differing information, such as NPR reporting as many as 122,514 cases with 2,144 deaths. As more cases are being reported due to increased testing, the estimated mortality rate has been falling. According to a recent posting by the BBC, the overall mortality rate is between 0.5% and 1.0%, with the greatest risk for persons 60 and older. According to the CDC, 80% of the deaths are among those who are 65 years and older, with the highest percentage for those 85 years and older. The CDC has stated that most people who contract the virus have mild illness and recover at home without medical care.
KANSAS CITY METRO AREA
STAY AT HOME ORDERS ENTERED ON MARCH 22, 2020
On March 22, 2020 the “Core 4” governments comprised of Johnson County, Kansas, City of Kansas City, Missouri, Jackson County Missouri and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas entered orders requiring their residents to stay at home in an effort to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
These orders take effect on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. These orders are to remain in effect for 30 days – until April 24, 2020 – unless shortened, extended or otherwise amended.
The Orders issued by each of the Core 4 governments are nearly identical, and each provide for the requirement for residents to stay in their homes except when performing “Essential Activities.”
> These activities are defined to include personal activities such as obtaining health care, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and exercising outside.
> These activities are also defined to define what business activities are allowed to continue during this period, limiting them to ”Essential Business” operations.
> To the extent possible, persons are to work from home even when performing tasks for Essential Business operations.
Social Distancing Requirements
Residents are to exercise social distancing requirements at all times. Social distancing has been defined to mean that a person must:
1.Maintain at least a 6’ distance from other individuals
2.No groups larger than 10
3.Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or use hand sanitizer
4.Cover coughs and sneezes (into your sleeve or elbow, not your hands)
5.Regularly clean high-touch surfaces
Not shake hands
Essential Activities - Personal
Essential Activities in the personal sense are tasks essential to a person’s health and safety, or that of their family and household members (and pets), and include:
1.Obtaining medical care and supplies
2.Obtaining supplies to work from home
3.Purchase groceries, or pick up food for carry-out from restaurants
4.Purchase household products, such as cleaning supplies and items needed for home maintenance
5.Outdoor activities, such as biking, walking, running – but remember to maintain your social distancing!
Essential Activities - Business
Essential Activities in the business sense are tasks essential to the infrastructure of our society, and generally include:
1.Healthcare operations and veterinary operations
2.Grocery stores and convenience stores
4.Big box stores, hardware stores for household supplies
5.Banks and financial institutions
8.Professional services, such as legal and accounting services (some jurisdictions restrict these services to those necessary to assist or support other Essential Business operations
Non-Essential Activities are primarily recreational in nature, and generally include:
1.Gyms and fitness facilities
7.Dine-in restaurants and bars
Since the state of emergencies began to be declared, we have seen a series of actions being taken by the federal, state and local governments. As such, we can expect more changes to occur on a fairly frequent basis as things are being done to respond to the problems that COVID-19 is causing.
We will be staying on top of these developments and will continue to keep you advised as to how they may affect you.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
March 22, 2020 Update
Stay at Home Orders Issued
Today we will be receiving the official “shelter at home” order from the Johnson County and Wyandotte County Kansas, and Jackson County Missouri governments. Yesterday the city of Kansas City issued its order in that regard. It is anticipated that the orders to be issued today will be substantially identical to that issued by Kansas City.
The professional services which we provide for our clients fall within the definition of “Essential Businesses” and as such we will be maintaining our regular business hours, and will be available at other times as well by appointment or to address urgent matters arising outside of business hours. We are available by telephone, video conferencing, email and texting. We will also continue our use of various technologies which we utilize in our practice to facilitate our services, such as electronic document sharing via DropBox.
We will be issuing advisory alerts as to the general application of the new laws and restrictions, and how they might affect your personal life and business operations. Please let us know if you have specific questions as to you or your business, such as the effect of the changes made by the Family First Coronavirus Response Act which amended the Family and Medical Leave Act and added the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which covers paid leave to employees with COVID-19 or caring for others with it.
March 20, 2020 Update
This is an update to our previous notice we sent out regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) effects on our community. More local and state governments are putting tighter restrictions on their residents. California and now Illinois have both issued state-wide shelter at home orders, effectively closing all businesses except those deemed to be essential, and requiring all persons to stay in their home except for certain activities allowed outside the home, such as getting health care, groceries, gas, and limited recreational time (so long as the 6’ social distancing rule is honored).
On the national front, today’s announcements by President Trump included the postponement of the tax filing day from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. He also announced that payments and interest on federally administered student loans would be stayed for until further notice.
Our local restrictions have not further tightened, but many local businesses are either reducing their hours of operation or closing. Many businesses are requiring all persons who can work from home to do so. We still have the 10-person limit for gatherings, with some exceptions. Food service is closed for dine-in, but many are doing carry-out and/or delivery.
The Murphy Law Firm is still maintaining our regular business hours, and will also continue to be available through various modes of communications, such as telephone, video conferencing, email and texting. We will also continue our use of various technologies which we utilize in our practice to facilitate our services, such as electronic document sharing via DropBox.
The state and federal courts in our area have increased their restrictions and decreased their availability except for emergency matters.
Kansas State/Johnson County Courts - All jury trials currently scheduled are continued until further notice. All courts are restricted to emergency operations until further notice.
Missouri State/Jackson County Courts – All in person proceedings are suspended until at least April 3, 2020. Jury trials suspended until at least March 27, 2020.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
March 18, 2020
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting more and more people every day, we want to assure you that we are taking steps to minimize any impact on our provision of legal services to our clients. Following is some general information which may affect your legal matters. We will be contacting each individual client whose matters are affected to address those issues and determine an appropriate course of proceeding.
Our office will maintain regular business hours, and will also continue to be available through various modes of communications, such as telephone, video conferencing, email and texting. We will also continue our use of various technologies which we utilize in our practice to facilitate our services, such as electronic document sharing via DropBox.
For those clients of ours that want to meet with us in our offices, we will remain available by appointment. That said, anyone who has travelled outside of the country in the last 30 days, or has family members or other persons that they have been in close proximity to that have traveled outside of the country in the last 30 days, or have been exposed to anyone confirmed to have the coronavirus will need to meet remotely by telephone or video conference. Likewise, for anyone with any cold or flu symptoms, such as fever within the last 72 hours, headache or body ache, cough, shortness of breath, we will meet remotely by telephone or video conference as well.
We have received notices from the state and federal courts where we practice that hearings and trials are being postponed or being held remotely by telephone or video conference. The period of time that these postponements are effective vary as between the particular court. We will be reaching out to all of our clients with hearing and trials scheduled in the next 60 days to advise them of the effect of these continuances on their matters.
Johnson County, Kansas District Court - For any civil case hearings currently scheduled to occur within the next 30 days, counsel should contact the Administrative Assistant of the Division in which the matter is pending before coming to Court to determine whether the matter will proceed as scheduled, or be heard via telephone or video conferencing, or be rescheduled as determined by the Court. Limited actions trials - all trials set on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from now through June 30, 2020 shall be continued by the Court, and will be rescheduled for a date after July 1, 2020.
Jackson County, Missouri Circuit Court – effective March 16, 2020 through March 27, 2020, subject to further extension, individual hearings will proceed as currently scheduled unless the specific Judge assigned to that case takes action, and each are strongly encouraged to conduct any such hearings via videoconferencing if possible or consider alternative means to conduct said hearings. All municipal court judges are subject to these restrictions as well.
U.S. District Court, District of Kansas – no persons who have an elevated risk of transmitting the novel corona virus that causes COVID-19 may enter any United States District of Kansas Courthouse or Probation Office without prior permission from the Chief Judge. Those persons include anyone who (1) has traveled from China; South Korea; Japan; Italy; Iran; New Rochelle, New York; or Washington State within the last 14 days, or lives or has close contact with someone who; (2) has been asked to self-quarantine by any health care provider or public official; (3) has been diagnosed with, or has had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or (4) is presently exhibiting the symptoms of an infectious respiratory illness, which include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Further, no such person can attend any hearing, trial, conference, deposition or other proceeding without prior authorization from the Court.
U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri – no restrictions announced as of yet.
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri - no persons who have an elevated risk of transmitting the novel corona virus that causes COVID-19 may enter any United States District of Kansas Courthouse or Probation Office without prior permission from the Chief Judge. Those persons include anyone who (1) has traveled from China; South Korea; Japan; Italy; Iran; New Rochelle, New York; or Washington State within the last 14 days, or lives or has close contact with someone who; (2) has been asked to self-quarantine by any health care provider or public official; (3) has been diagnosed with, or has had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or (4) is presently exhibiting the symptoms of an infectious respiratory illness, which include fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us by phone, email, text or through this website.
Thank you for your patience while our country works through this situation.