A measure that would protect businesses, churches, schools and other entities from COVID-related lawsuits is quickly moving through the Missouri Senate and could be the first bill Gov. Mike Parson signs this year.
State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Republican attorney who authored the bill, said as the economy and schools start to reopen, his legislation is crucially important.
“This is really going to be the time where small-business owners, schools, front line health care providers, all the risk of them getting sued is going to be the greatest,” Luetkemeyer said. “I think it’s important that we have these protections in place for those groups as part of the reopening so that we make sure that we don’t have a second wave where businesses are getting put out of business because of lawsuits.”
Under Senate Bill 51, “No individual or entity engaged in businesses, services, activities or accommodations shall be liable in any COVID-19 exposure action.”
The exception to that rule is if the person can prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that one of the two actions occurred: the individual or entity engaged in recklessness or willful misconduct that caused an actual exposure to COVID-19; or is the actual exposure caused personal injury to the plaintiff.”
Luetkemeyer’s bill also creates a statute of limitations that caps at one year the length someone can file a COVID lawsuit.
“The purpose behind that is to make sure we don’t have these cases that are languishing out there and sitting out there for a long time,” he said. “That creates a lot of uncertainty.”
Despite it almost being nearly impossible to trace where someone got the virus, the GOP senator said the legislation prevents people from simply guessing or assuming a point of contraction.
“One of the requirements in the bill is that in order to establish a COVID liability claim, the plaintiff would have to show that...