Wednesday, 27 January 2021 18:12

States Revive Push for Virus Liability Protections for Employers

Written by Chris Marr, Bloomberg Law


...takes away an important incentive for companies to follow proper health and safety protocols to protect workers and customers---a point that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) echoed when he vetoed a liability shield bill in November.


The language in the Florida measure is unconstitutional because it would remove the right to trial by jury, turn a judge into the jury and set “an impossibly high standard, to be honest, to prove by clear and convincing evidence gross negligence on the part of the property owner in failing to follow the guidelines,” said Curry Pajcic, treasurer of the Florida Justice Association and a past president of the American Board of Trial Advocates.


The Florida AFL-CIO also objected to the bill on similar grounds.


Eyes on Indiana, Texas


Bills proposing COVID-19 liability limits also have been filed for 2021 in Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. Governors or legislative leaders have voiced support for enacting liability protections this year in Arizona and South Carolina, and business groups also are urging lawmakers to pass them in New Hampshire and Texas.


The specific language varies somewhat from state to state---as with the laws that states passed in 2020---but many include protections for nonprofits, individuals and government entities such as schools and prisons.


“Our businesses, our health care providers and educational institutions should not be put at risk or competitive disadvantage through no fault of their own, particularly after following safety protocols,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said in calling for liability limits during his Jan. 13 State of the State speech. “We should be careful not to let litigation kill what the pandemic could not.”


In 2020, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming enacted...

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