“No bill will pass the Senate without liability protection for everyone related to the coronavirus,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic that we already have related to the coronavirus.”
McConnell and Senate Republicans have made liability reform a top priority in the upcoming negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package.
The issue has been building steam as the economy slowly emerges from the disastrous effects of COVID-19. McConnell insists that the next relief bill will contain provisions shielding institutions that will likely include businesses, colleges, schools, churches, and health care facilities would only be legally liable for “gross negligence and intentional misconduct.”
The shield would be retroactive from December 2019 and extend through 2024, or the end of an emergency declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As proposed, the protection would give federal courts jurisdiction over lawsuits related to personal injuries or medical liability tied to coronavirus infections, preventing lawsuits in state courts, where business groups have warned about uneven laws.
Considerable Democrat resistance is anticipated in both the House and Senate. Meanwhile, the White House is currently reviewing the proposal.