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Virgin Atlantic’s 1.2 billion-pound ($1.6 billion) restructuring plan was approved Wednesday by the High Court in London, allowing the international airline to continue rebuilding its operations after the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal, which has already been approved by creditors, must now be confirmed in the U.S. courts.

The airline announced the refinancing package in July to ensure its survival after passenger numbers dropped 98% in the second quarter. It includes 600 million pounds of support from the airline’s owners, Virgin Group and Delta Airlines, 450 million pounds of deferred payments to creditors and 170 million pounds of financing from U.S.-based Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP.

Virgin Atlantic, founded in 1984 by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has already cut 3,550 jobs, shuttered operations at London’s Gatwick Airport and announced plans to retire 11 aircraft as it seeks to weather the slowdown in air travel. The airline says it doesn’t expect passenger volume to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

"Achieving this significant milestone puts Virgin Atlantic in a position to rebuild its balance sheet, restore customer confidence and welcome passengers back to the skies, safely, as soon as they are ready to travel,” the company said in a statement.

Delta invested $360 million in Virgin Atlantic in December 2012, acquiring a 49% stake in the airline. Virgin Group owns the remaining shares.

Virgin flies from London’s Heathrow Airport and Manchester to destinations in the U.S., China, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, Israel and the Caribbean.


Monty Crawford is able to advise clients on the legal issues and implications of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, including contractual, commercial, employment, insurance and regulatory issues. Monty remains up to date on the latest orders, regulatory requirements, and legal issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is well-positioned both to advise clients in these uncertain times, and to provide effective representation in COVID-19 related regulatory and litigation disputes.

Contractual

Contractual obligations are thrown into uncertainty in the circumstances of a pandemic.  Well-written contracts can help to minimize problems. Poorly written contracts can expose businesses to increased levels of liability. Whether a company is liable for certain obligations under the circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic may depend on the specific language in the contract in question.  Monty Crawford has the experience and expertise to guide companies and individuals through these issues.

Insurance

The level of insurance claims coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic will be unprecedented. From the inability to fulfill contracts due to closures and cancellations for public health reasons, insurance policies will be interpreted and contested for years to come. Specific terms, conditions and provisions in individual insurance policies will be extremely important.  Monty Crawford has over twenty-five years of experience with litigation involving insurance companies and has the experience and expertise to guide companies and individuals through these novel issues.

Regulatory

Multiple agencies within the State of Maryland and the federal government continue to implement regulatory requirements in an attempt to address concerns created by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Monty Crawford is able to advise local companies on the regulatory issues that apply to them, maintain compliance, and counsel companies on how to prepare for what may come next.

Litigation

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in increased litigation, as the disease disrupts all aspects of the economy. Disputes over commercial contracts, insurance coverage, regulatory enforcement, and tort claims are all expected to increase and raise novel issues. Monty Crawford has the litigation experience and expertise needed to help clients pursuing or facing litigation in the aftermath of COVID-19.



U.S. immigration courts sharply scaled back operations Monday but have stopped well short of a total shutdown demanded by employees, including judges and government attorneys.

Wearing face masks, about 30 asylum seekers who had been waiting in Mexico were escorted by authorities into a federal building in El Paso, Texas, some carrying children.

They reported, as instructed, to a border crossing at 4 a.m. Monday and were driven to the court in white vans. Journalists were barred from the courtroom on the grounds that it was too crowded.

A lawyer who attended said the judge appeared by video conference, and few, if any migrants wore masks once the hearing began.

“All of the benches are taken up,” Imelda Maynard said. “Most of the children are asleep in their parent’s arms.”

The Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review late Sunday postponed preliminary hearings for people who aren’t in custody through April 10. While significant, the order doesn’t extend to courts in immigration detention centers or to the government’s “Migrant Protection Protocols” policy to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in the U.S. It also didn’t apply to final hearings which determine whether migrants are granted asylum.


The Supreme Court will decide whether the family of a Mexican teenager who was shot to death by an American border agent can sue for damages in U.S. courts.

The justices said Tuesday that they will hear arguments next term in a case involving an agent who fired shots across the U.S.-Mexico border that killed 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca. The shooting occurred in 2010 on the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez (see-yoo-DAHD’ WAHR’-ehz).

The U.S. Border Patrol agent says he fired his gun because he was being attacked by people throwing rocks on the Mexican side of the border.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in 2017. It previously sent the case back to a lower court for additional proceedings.


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Even before Donald Trump chooses a Supreme Court nominee, the new president can take steps to make several contentious court cases go away.

Legal challenges involving immigration, climate change, cost-free contraceptive care and transgender rights all could be affected, without any help from Congress.

The cases turn on Obama administration policies that rely on the president’s pen, regulations or decisions made by federal agencies. And what one administration can do, the next can undo.

It is not uncommon for the court’s docket to change when one party replaces the other in the White House. That change in direction is magnified by the high-court seat Trump will get to fill after Senate Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

“We were hoping we’d be looking forward to a progressive majority on the Supreme Court. After the election results, there is a new reality,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

The Supreme Court already is set to consider a case involving a transgender teen who was born female, but identifies as a male and wants to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school. When the federal appeals court in Richmond ruled in student Gavin Grimm’s favor this year, it relied on a determination by the U.S. Education Department that federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education also applies to gender identity.

The new administration could withdraw the department’s guidance, which could cause the justices to return the case to the lower courts to reach their own decision about whether the law requires schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity.



In a win for the Obama administration and environmental groups, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a 5-year-old federal program that pays large electric customers to save energy during times of peak demand.

The justices ruled 6-2 that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had the authority to issue regulations aimed at conserving energy and preventing blackouts.

Supporters of the plan say it has saved billions in energy costs, improved reliability of the power grid and reduced air pollution since it was put in place in 2011. A coalition of utility companies, which have lost millions of dollars in profits under the rule, argued it was too generous and trampled state rights over retail electricity sales.

A federal appeals court ruled last year that the plan intrudes on state power because it affects the purchasing decisions of retail customers.

But the Supreme Court said the commission acted within its authority to regulate wholesale markets and was not attempting to regulate retail sales, which are governed by states.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said even utility companies don’t dispute that the plan curbs prices and enhances overall electric reliability, a key purpose of the Federal Power Act. The fact that retail sales are affected doesn’t matter, she said.


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