Missouri Business Headlines

Senate passes bill to stop opportunistic COVID-19 lawsuits

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A critical bill to protect Missouri employers from COVID-19 exposure lawsuits has been passed by the Missouri Senate. By a vote of 20-13, the bill now moves to the Missouri House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 51 would stop lawsuits targeting businesses over alleged exposure to COVID-19. Since March, more than 1,000 COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed against employers across the nation. In response, many states — including all but one of Missouri’s neighboring states — have enacted some form of protection against these lawsuits. However, Missouri businesses remain exposed to opportunistic COVID-19 litigation. Since April, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been leading the call for action on this issue. Nearly 800 businesses and individuals have joined the Missouri Chamber in asking legislation to fix this growing problem.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Republican from Parkville. Sen. Bill White, a Republican from Joplin, has also championed this issue by sponsoring a COVID-19 liability bill that was combined with Sen. Luetkemeyer’s bill in the Senate.

But while the Senate passed the legislation, senators failed to adopt an emergency clause by a vote of 19-15 — 23 yes votes are needed to pass an emergency clause, which allows legislation to go into effect immediately once signed into law by the governor. But without the clause, businesses would remain at risk of COVID-19 exposure lawsuits throughout the summer, until August 28, 2021.

“If we want to restart our economy and recover from this pandemic, we must protect Missouri employers from opportunistic COVID-19 lawsuits. The threat of this litigation looms over every employer in Missouri,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I’d like to thank the Missouri Senate for making this a priority and passing this legislation. However, the failure to pass the emergency clause is bad for employers and hurts our economic recovery. It was very disappointing to see so many Senators side with trial attorneys who are seeking to profit from this pandemic instead of supporting employers who are trying to return to work and power our economic recovery. There is no reason to delay implementation of this critical legislation. As lawmakers continue their work on this legislation, we will strongly advocate that this bill lands on Gov. Mike Parson’s desk with an emergency clause.”

Senators’ votes on SB 51

Senators’ votes on the emergency clause


Sen. Lauren Arthur – NO

Sen. Jason Bean – yes

Sen. Doug Beck – NO

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter – yes

Sen. Rick Brattin – NO

Sen. Justin Brown – yes

Sen. Eric Burlison – yes

Sen. Mike Cierpiot – yes

Sen. Sandy Crawford – yes

Sen. Bill Eigel – NO

Sen. Karla Eslinger – yes

Sen. Elaine Gannon – yes

Sen. Dan Hegeman – yes

Sen. Denny Hoskins – yes

Sen. Lincoln Hough – yes

Sen. Andrew Koenig – yes

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer – yes

Sen. Karla May – NO

Sen. Mike Moon – NO

Sen. Angela Mosley – NO

Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin – yes

Sen. Bob Onder – yes

Sen. Greg Razer – NO

Sen. Holly Rehder – yes

Sen. Jeanie Riddle – yes

Sen. John Rizzo – NO

Sen. Steven Roberts – NO

Sen. Caleb Rowden – yes

Sen. Dave Schatz – yes

Sen. Jill Schupp – NO

Sen. Barbara Anne Washington – absent

Sen. Bill White – yes

Sen. Paul Wieland – NO

Sen. Brian Williams – NO

Sen. Lauren Arthur – NO

Sen. Jason Bean – yes

Sen. Doug Beck – NO

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter – yes

Sen. Rick Brattin – NO

Sen. Justin Brown – yes

Sen. Eric Burlison – yes

Sen. Mike Cierpiot – yes

Sen. Sandy Crawford – yes

Sen. Bill Eigel – NO

Sen. Karla Eslinger – yes

Sen. Elaine Gannon – yes

Sen. Dan Hegeman – yes

Sen. Denny Hoskins – NO

Sen. Lincoln Hough – yes

Sen. Andrew Koenig – yes

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer – yes

Sen. Karla May – NO

Sen. Mike Moon – NO

Sen. Angela Mosley – NO

Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin – yes

Sen. Bob Onder – yes

Sen. Greg Razer – NO

Sen. Holly Rehder – yes

Sen. Jeanie Riddle – yes

Sen. John Rizzo – NO

Sen. Steven Roberts – NO

Sen. Caleb Rowden – yes

Sen. Dave Schatz – yes

Sen. Jill Schupp – NO

Sen. Barbara Anne Washington – NO

Sen. Bill White – yes

Sen. Paul Wieland – NO

Sen. Brian Williams – NO

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