The Way

GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing

Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.

A Day of Rememberance

Sep. 14, 2016

Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. These tragic events remain the largest insurance loss in global history, with more than $43 billion in property, liability, life and workers' compensation losses. The consequential economic loss to New York City and the World Trade Center exceed $123 billion. Still today, the casualty effects of 9/11 continue.


Thousands of first responders from New York and across the country risked their life and, it appears, their continued health to assist in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts following the attacks. About 65,000 responders are now enrolled in the in the WTC Health Program, which tracks and treats first responders who contracted some of the 90 conditions tied to the attacks and their aftermath. Today, nearly 40,000 people have health conditions causally related to 9/11. Dr. Michael Crane, the medical director of the WTC Health Program, estimates that many of 90,000 first responders who were exposed to the physical, emotional, and environmental risks at Ground Zero might not even be aware of their emerging conditions.


The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund ("VCF") was created to provide compensation for any individual or representative of deceased individuals who suffered physical harm or died from of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath. This week, the administration released the required, final regulations detailing important changes to the VCF's policies and procedures for evaluating claims and calculating each claimant's loss.


And, this week the House of Representatives voted to allow 9/11 victims to sue the sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia for damages related to the attacks. The bill now heads to the White House, where the President has indicated his intent to veto the measure. The impact and aftermath of at least one generation's watershed moment wages on, even as the first classes of high school freshmen born after 9/11 are on their way to school this fall.

Financial Risk Management


This week, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) began the committee debate process needed to call the Republican Party's proposed repeal and revision of the Dodd-Frank Act to a House vote. The legislative proposal seeks to end “too-big-to-fail” bailouts and calls for significant reforms to curtail the role of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).


The CFPB has been active since its inception in July 2011. It has completed prolific rulemaking more quickly than all other federal agencies. The CFPB's pace of rulemaking is at least 3.5 times faster than that of other significant executive agencies. Chairman Hensarling's move this week comes on the heels of the CFPB handing down a 9-figure fine in the financial sector, the largest fine in CFPB's history. Also, the CFPB just announced the expected financial impact of its recent Anti-Arbitration rule, which is expected to pave a path for more than 1,200 class action lawsuits related to improper lending practices in the next year. The Bureau expects legal fees from these suits will tally more than $100 million.

Making Our Way Around the Country


The class of drivers that that joined in an action against Uber was derailed this week, as the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals  ruled this week that the plaintiff drivers were not permitted to use the courts for their disputed claims against the ride-hailing firm. They were required to submit to arbitration as outlined in their driver contract. 


This week, new financial risk management and self-insurance regulations promulgated by the Bureau of Oceanic Energy Management (BOEM) within the U.S. Department of the Interior take effect. Advocacy groups in the offshore oil and gas industry warn that the regulation, if enforceable, mark a significant change in the way such offshore rigs insured, bonded and regulated. The Bureau established a series of educational materials and workshops to help explain the required changes in financial assurance.


The U.S. Flag that was at the center of one of the most iconic images photographed at Ground Zero vanished in the days following the events. This week, scientists from Washington State University confirmed that a flag recovered in Everett, WA was the flag raised in the iconic photo. That particular flag has carried special meaning, representing unparalleled strength in the face of incomprehensible circumstances. We pause this week to remember all those affected by the events of September 11th. And, we are reassured by the resilience and heroism that dwells inside of each of each of us, if we are willing to look for it.


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