COVID liability bill receives Senate hearing
December 1, 2020 - The Senate Committee on Government Reform is currently holding a hearing on Senate Bill 1 in the Special Legislative Session called to address COVID liability protection.
Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM), along with other groups, called on Governor Mike Parson to call the special session on the topic. Legislative leaders have opened the special session in conjunction with another special session on COVID funding.
Senate Bill 1 was filed by Senator Ed Emery to provide protection from frivolous lawsuits against businesses, healthcare providers and others that have taken appropriate steps to control the spread of the virus.
Chairman of the AIM Board of Directors Jerry M. Hunter and AIM president and CEO Ray McCarty sent letters in support of the bill. Written testimony was encouraged to help reduce COVID exposure.
"It is undeniable that Missouri businesses have taken a gigantic hit from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Hunter. "The citizens of Missouri and employees and employers need these businesses, educational institutions, hospitals and other healthcare facilities and other entities which have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 to safely open and remain open in order that the Missouri economy can recover and employees will have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for their families.
"I am sure that you are aware that all businesses in the State of Missouri, including those in the manufacturing sector, educational institutions, hospitals and healthcare facilities are concerned that even when they take appropriate and reasonable action to provide protection for their employees, they are not insulated from frivolous lawsuits which may be brought by a trial lawyer who is looking for anyone to file a lawsuit against, no matter how frivolous the claim. Missouri businesses really need protection from these frivolous lawsuits and this protection has to be provided through legislation passed by the Missouri General Assembly and signed by Governor Parson. The businesses and employers in the State of Missouri that follow public health guidelines and work toward creating a safe environment for its employees and customers should not have to worry about devastating COVID-19 lawsuits as they work toward returning their employees back to work and getting their businesses back on track. Such COVID-19 liability protections should be extended to other business entities, including education institutions, hospitals and healthcare facilities and other business entities.
"I am writing to not only request but to support your efforts to pass much-needed COVID-19 liability protections for Missouri businesses. I am also requesting that every effort be made to pass this much-needed COVID-19 liability protection during the Special Session of the Legislature this month. Such legislation should, at a minimum, provide protections for any and all businesses and employers, including manufacturing businesses, schools and hospitals from the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) at the beginning of this year. Again, I would respectfully recommend that the legislation should cover any claims which allegedly arose at the inception or onset of the Coronavirus and not just claims which may have arisen following the passage of the legislation by the Missouri General Assembly and its signing by Governor Parson," said Hunter.
"Associated Industries of Missouri will continue to work with Senator Emery, Governor Parson and legislative leaders to craft protections for responsible employers that are doing their best to control the spread of the virus against opportunistic lawsuits filed by those wishing to profit from this disease," said McCarty.
Jerry M. Hunter is a partner and Senior Counsel with the law firm of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP and also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Associated Industries of Missouri.