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Wednesday, 01 July 2020 21:28

Bill to Protect GA Businesses From COVID-19 Lawsuits on Governor's Desk

Written by Nyamekye Daniel, The Center Square
Mary Spoto, general manager of Madison Chop House Grille, places a sign outside the restaurant as she and her staff prepare to shift from takeout only to dine-in service April 27 in Madison, GA. Mary Spoto, general manager of Madison Chop House Grille, places a sign outside the restaurant as she and her staff prepare to shift from takeout only to dine-in service April 27 in Madison, GA. John Bazemore/AP

A bill that would offer Georgia businesses legal protection from certain coronavirus-related lawsuits is on Gov. Brian Kemp's desk.

The measure, dubbed the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act, would prevent health care facilities and providers and other businesses, including those who sell personal protective equipment, from being sued because of potential exposure to or transmission of COVID-19.

 

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is calling on Kemp to sign the bill.

 

"COVID-19 threatens not only the health of Georgians but also their livelihood," David Raynor, Georgia Chamber of Commerce's chief public affairs officer, said in a statement. "We appreciate Senate and House leadership [for] adopt[ing] legislation that helps businesses reopen with less risk and enables hardworking citizens to provide for their families."

 

The act does not protect businesses or health care providers that have been proven negligent or guilty of "willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or intentional infliction of harm."

 

Once the bill becomes law, it would be in effect until July 14, 2021.

 

Ashley Williams Haltom, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, said the association has been working for weeks with legislators and business leaders on a piece of legislation that matches the organization's priorities.

 

"Throughout the process, we have been unwavering on three things: that this bill be limited to COVID cases; that it be limited in time; and that it not protect against gross negligence," Haltom said in a statement.

 

"We believe that we have found a compromise in SB 359 that meets those requirements. As we continue through unknown terrain in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to helping Georgia's vibrant economy get back to work safely with the implementation of SB 359 into law."

 

Kemp has until Aug. 7 to sign or veto the bill before it automatically becomes law.

 

The governor issued an executive order in April that includes similar liability protections for health care workers during the COVID-19 public health state of emergency.

 

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission. 

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