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COVID liability protection bills heard in Senate Committee

January 19, 2021 - AIM President and CEO Ray McCarty testified in support of two bills designed to provide businesses with limited liability protection from frivolous COVID lawsuits.


SB 51, sponsored by Committee Chairman Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer and SB 42 sponsored by Sen. Bill White were heard in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence today.


McCarty also filed testimony in support on behalf of Jerry M. Hunter, a partner in the Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner law firm who also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Associated Industries of Missouri.


The bills will likely be combined in some form in the near future in a bill that will contain the best ideas of both bills. Both sponsors share a desire to provide limited liability protection for healthcare providers, manufacturers of products that are used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and premises owners (including business owners of all sizes) from lawsuits alleging harm from COVID-19.


The only opposition expressed to the Committee was from plaintiffs' attorneys arguing there have been few if any liability cases filed to date, and several witnesses that argued against vaccinations and authority of local governments. Neither vaccinations nor local control over businesses would be impacted by the bills.


McCarty pointed out in testimony that plaintiffs' attorneys have five years to file claims, so he said he takes no comfort in the fact lawsuits have not been filed to date. Other witnesses pointed out attorneys are already running ads regarding COVID lawsuits.


No action was taken on the bills at today's hearing, but a vote is anticipated soon. Both bills contain emergency clauses, meaning they would go into effect immediately upon the Governor's signature.


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