Covid Cases Looming? Maybe Not. Some States Are Giving Companies The Antibodies To Fight Covid-19 Lawsuits
On Friday, June 19, 2020, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, stated a potential second COVID-19 “rescue” package could be in the works. McConnell said he wants to prioritize investing in” future generations” in this legislative package.
If passed, this would be the second piece of legislation by Congress to aid families and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. On March 27, President Trump signed in law H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act” (CARES Act).
McConnell stated that his priority was to ensure that the next package included “liability shields” for universities and corporations that would protect such institutions from COVID-19 related lawsuits. The Senator didn’t give much specifics about his goal to “invest” in the future, but some states aren’t waiting around for McConnell to elaborate.
States like Tennessee and Iowa are already passing laws to make it harder for an individual to prevail in a negligence action stemming from the pandemic. On June 16, 2020, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed legislation that would require a person to demonstrate with clear and convincing evidence that an entity operated with gross negligence or willful misconduct, causing a person to contact the coronavirus. The law would also require a person to show that the business did not act in substantial compliance with any federal or state public health guidance.
Similarly, on June 5, 2020, Iowa Legislature passed a law that covers meatpacking plants, hospitals, and nursing homes from claims by employees, customers, and family members, for coronavirus-related hospitalizations or deaths. The new bill directly separates and limits who can file lawsuits against a business for COVID-19 related illnesses.
There is no doubt that these new legislations raise the bar for liability for coronavirus exposure at certain businesses. However, this is an uncharted territory for insurance companies and lawyers. It is safe to say that the world of personal injury law is entering a new phase, just as we are.
Thanks to Irving Fayman for his contribution to this post. Please email Heather Aquino with any questions.