COVID Liability Fights Move to States

March 9, 2021
The battle over legal liability for COVID infections has shifted from the federal government to state legislatures.

The battle over legal liability for COVID infections has shifted from the federal government to state legislatures.

Florida has joined the states now considering, or having passed, bans on lawsuits against businesses relating to COVID infections. A measure was passed by the state House and is expected to pass the Senate. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he will sign it.

The Florida measure, like most such measures, is being opposed by labor unions, consumer advocates and much of the legal community. It would require plaintiffs to prove gross negligence and include an affidavit from a physician stating that the infection was caused by the defendant’s actions “with a reasonable degree of medical certainty” – a standard that critics claim is impossible.

Fourteen states have passed measures limiting COVID liability for businesses, and others like Florida are contemplating it.

The effort to pass liability shields in state legislatures picked up steam after attempts by Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pass it as part of COVID relief legislation came to naught.

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