February 12, 2021 - By Ray McCarty, President and CEO, Associated Industries of Missouri
Dear AIM members and friends:
We have come to an important fork in the road in our effort to provide relief from plaintiffs' lawyers that want to profit from the COVID pandemic by launching frivolous lawsuits against you, Missouri's employers.
Our combined bill, SB 51 & 42, has been amended in the Senate and awaits two very important votes. First is the vote on the bill, which is obviously necessary for the bill to move forward. Second, and equally important, is a vote on an "emergency clause" that would allow the bill to become effective immediately upon signature by Governor Parson.
The bill provides protection for our brave men and women in our healthcare facilities that risked exposure to this virus to help treat those sick with the virus. These heroes, and their employers, deserve protection from frivolous lawsuits.
But the bill also provides protection for manufacturers who answered Governor Parson's call to shift production away from their normal products to start making critical personal protective equipment (PPE). We anticipate clever plaintiffs' lawyers will try to file lawsuits against people that used these products and caught COVID anyway.
We also anticipate these lawyers will file suits alleging a business didn't do enough to protect employees and/or customers while on their premises. The bill will protect those businesses that have taken, and continue to take, appropriate steps to protect their employees and customers from frivolous lawsuits.
While most of us believe it will be difficult or impossible to prove something a business manufactured was at fault, anyone who has paid attention to some of the crazy arguments made in St. Louis courts and watched with horror as juries render ridiculous verdicts against businesses knows this is something we must take very seriously! The same goes for those claiming they were exposed to COVID at any particular location over another - it will be impossible to pinpoint where a person acquired the disease. But we know these plaintiffs' lawyers make their money on the backs of our businesses using these flimsy arguments. We must stop these lawsuits before they begin.
The bill will only apply to alleged exposures to COVID after the effective date of the bill, meaning this emergency clause is critical. Otherwise, the bill will be effective August 28, 2021, and only apply to potential exposures after that date!
Now the real reason for this article: WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Senators and Representatives in the Missouri General Assembly see and hear from us on a regular basis. That is our job: to represent Missouri businesses as the Legislature considers legislation that may help or harm your business. But they need to hear from you, the business owners and operators in their districts. One call from you is worth ten calls from a lobbyist.
So the time for action is now! Please visit this link to find your Senator and Representative and take just a few minutes out of your day to call them and let them know you support Senate Bill 51 AND the emergency clause. Don't be afraid - your elected officials want to hear from you because they want to make decisions that reflect their constituents views. We have learned some misinformed folks have made many calls to legislators in an attempt to derail this bill. Some believe the bill requires mandatory vaccinations, or somehow tramples on religious freedoms - neither of which is true.
One final word. The plaintiffs' lawyers have told some legislators this is not worth doing because there have been few lawsuits filed over COVID liability issues. These clever lawyers know they have five years to file these lawsuits. Not filing those suits now gives everyone an impression this is not an important issue. But mark my words, the lawsuits will be coming if we fail to act. This is a very expensive game of poker, and our opponents are experts at playing the game.
Please visit this link, then pick up the phone and call your Senator and Representative and let them know you want them to pass SB 51 AND the emergency clause. The immediate fight is in the Senate, but the bill will (hopefully) move to the House next. Your action today may protect you and other Missouri businesses from frivolous lawsuits in the future.
For more information regarding the bill, you may visit the official bill site at this link.
President and CEO
Associated Industries of Missouri