As the states begin to reopen and the economy jump starts, Congress and Legislatures in a number of states are looking at bills to protect businesses from lawsuits from employers and customers who may get exposed to the virus in their business.
Oregon business groups are among those asking Governor Kate Brown for such protections.
They hope she’ll broach the subject in the special session of the Oregon Legislature that begins on Wednesday. Her purpose for calling the session is to enact some statewide police reforms. Brown is calling them police accountability bills.
Also on the agenda is response policies for pandemics like the coronavirus.
Four dozen state and national business associations, other lobbying groups, schools and governments want Brown to add a business shield law to the agenda. They sent a letter to the governor and listed their reasons.
“If an entity is acting under orders of the governor or if they are following the guidelines issued to safely guide their operations, then they should have certainty during the COVID-19 emergency situation that they will not be sued,” the letter said. “Entities need to know they have protection from lawsuits if they are following state mandated safety guidelines.”
What they want is a bill that makes it illegal for courts to award damages against businesses, governments and people who are complying with orders and regulations issued by the governor. They believe this needs to happen unless “the damages result from the person or entity’s gross negligence or from the person or entity’s reckless, wanton or intentional misconduct.”
In Congress Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants such legislation added to the next stimulus package. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi does not.
Oregon House Minority Leader Rep. Christine Drazan supports the concept.
“For those that are following those rules and meeting those guidelines, there should be a safe harbor for them from frivolous lawsuits,” Drazan said. “I think that it’s possible to … also ensure that if there is a need for someone to sue, if someone has acted in bad faith, then that’s also still available.”
She hopes Democrats will see the wisdom of the legislation and go along.
Source link: OregonLive.com