With Congress considering COVID-19 lawsuit protections, Missouri awaits action on special session
As Congress rushes to pass another coronavirus relief package, business advocates and pro-jobs lawmakers are urging the inclusion of a measure to create lawsuit protections for employers that are following public health recommendations in an effort to keep employees and customers safe.
COVID-19 lawsuits are a growing threat in Missouri and across the nation. Business leaders are concerned they could be targeted in lawsuits that allege someone contracted the virus on their premises. Today, these unwarranted lawsuits can move forward in Missouri regardless of whether businesses are taking proper precautions against virus transmission.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one strong supporter of enacting nationwide protections with legislation from Congress. He said liability protection should be a priority “so that people who acted in good faith during this crisis are not confronted with a second epidemic of lawsuits in the wake of the pandemic that we’re already struggling with.”
Many hurdles remain for COVID-19 liability legislation on the federal level. But Missouri doesn’t have to leave the fate of thousands of our state’s businesses up to lawmakers in Washington D.C.
While a special session Missouri Governor Mike Parson called to address violent crime will come first, the need to follow it with a special session to address liability protections is clear. Led by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, more than 700 businesses, organizations and individuals have signed a letter asking Parson to call the Missouri Legislature back for this purpose.
“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. “But companies that are taking the necessary precautions should not be subject to crippling COVID-19 litigation.”
Parson has previously voiced his support for such a bill.
“That’s got to be something that’s on the table. We’re seeing other states do it,” he said at a June 9 press briefing. “I’m not interested in a bunch of people taking advantage of good, hardworking people that are trying to do a job.”
Multiple other states have already enacted some liability shields.