COVID-19 lawsuits on the rise
There have been hundreds of lawsuits and class actions filed against employers related to the coronavirus since March, records show. And those filings are increasing rapidly.
March saw nine cases filed. That number climbed to 51 in April, which then spiked to 93 in May, 125 in June, and 168 in July. Cases continue to trend at high levels in August, with 93 cases filed since August 20. The healthcare industry has been hardest hit by this COVID-19 litigation, bearing 133 of the total 549 cases.
In light of this, business leaders in Missouri are rightly concerned they could be targeted in lawsuits that allege someone contracted the virus on their premises. Such a lawsuit can currently move forward in Missouri regardless of whether businesses are taking proper precautions against virus transmission.
Led by the Missouri Chamber, more than 700 businesses, organizations and individuals have signed a letter urging Gov. Parson to call a special session to stem frivolous coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Immunity would not be granted to bad actors; only to employers who have acted in good faith to follow CDC and state guidelines.
“We are not asking lawmakers to protect businesses that ignore government orders and defy public health recommendations,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “But companies that are taking the necessary precautions should not be subject to crippling COVID-19 litigation.”
Gov. Mike Parson has previously expressed support for such a measure.
“That’s got to be something that’s on the table. We’re seeing other states do it,” Parson said at a June 9 briefing. “I’m not interested in a bunch of people taking advantage of good, hardworking people that are trying to do a job.”
The Missouri Chamber continues to advocate for commonsense COVID-19 liability protections. Without action, our state’s job creators will be the next targets of trial attorneys trying to cash out on the pandemic.