🗒️ Will businesses get Covid-19 lawsuit immunity?
Governments have been allowing businesses to reopen, and plenty of them are staying open despite rising coronavirus cases in much of the country. Depending on how state and federal governments act, that decision could carry legal risk, according to Law360.
Many members of Congress want immunity: If there is another coronavirus relief bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested Republicans won’t pass it unless there’s a civil liability shield for businesses, believing a shield necessary to best promote economic recovery.
But some Democrats are opposed: They say they don’t want a shield to be a hall pass for major corporations to enjoy broad immunity.
Several states are acting on their own
Nine states already have passed similar lawsuit shields, with varying levels of protection. North Carolina, for instance, has granted immunity to only essential businesses and restaurants. Oklahoma and Kansas have shield laws but the entities must prove they complied with state and federal guidelines.
Legal experts say the need for coronavirus shield laws is likely overstated. So far only a few dozen personal injury coronavirus-related lawsuits have been filed against businesses. And with or without a shield, they say the plaintiffs will have to clear a high bar: proving they contracted coronavirus from the place of business and that the business did not take adequate precautionary measures.