Open for lawsuits: Missouri lags in offering COVID-19 liability protection
As more and more states enact measures to stop opportunistic COVID-19 lawsuits, Missouri now stands out for its inaction. COVID-19 lawsuits are a growing threat in Missouri and across the nation. Led by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, more than 600 businesses, organizations and individuals have signed a letter asking Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to call a special session and address this problem.
Many business leaders are concerned they could be targeted in lawsuits that allege someone contracted the virus on their premises. Today, these lawsuits can move forward in Missouri regardless of whether businesses are taking proper precautions against virus transmission. The Missouri Chamber is asking for urgent action to protect businesses that are following public health recommendations in an effort to keep employees and customers safe.
But while we wait in Missouri, many states are acting. All but one of Missouri’s neighboring states have already enacted some form of COVID-19 liability protections. Most recently, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a protection package into law on June 18.
“It’s clear that many states, including our neighboring states, understand that these lawsuits are a serious concern that must be addressed if we expect our economy to make a robust recovery. We want businesses to reopen and help get Missourians back to work, but employers in our state are well aware that they might be inviting COVID-19 lawsuits regardless of the precautions they take to keep employees and customers safe. We need to protect these businesses that are doing everything they can to create a safe workplace,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber. “We are not asking lawmakers to protect businesses that ignore government orders and defy public health recommendations. But companies that are taking the necessary precautions should not be subject to crippling COVID-19 litigation. There is strong support for calling a special session on this topic and we urge Gov. Parson bring legislators back to Jefferson City so they can take action.”