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As companies start planning their reopenings, business groups are pushing Congress to limit liability from potential lawsuits filed by workers and customers infected by the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump has floated shielding businesses from lawsuits. His top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNBC last week that businesses shouldn’t be held liable to trial lawyers “putting on false lawsuits that will probably be thrown out of court.” He said the issue could require legislation, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the issue would be a priority when lawmakers return.

New York Senator Daphne Jordan introduced legislation this month that would limit the civil liability of employers and employees over possible transmission of COVID-19 “caused by an act or omission while acting in good faith” and causing death or injury.

S.B. 8800, which is entitled “Get New York Back to Work act,” would apply to a “Covered Entity” which is defined as one or more individuals, business trusts, legal representatives, corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, joint stock companies, universities, schools, not-for-profit organizations, religious organizations or any organized group of such entities.

If adopted, no Covered Entity shall be liable in any civil action for the spread or possible transmission of COVID-19 caused by an act or omission of such covered entity acting in good faith in the workplace.

The bill describes “good faith” as “making reasonable efforts to act in compliance” with applicable guidance from federal, state and local authorities, among other governing bodies.

The bill was referred to a rules committee and would go into effect 30 days after passage.

In addition to New York, at least 12 other states – including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming – have begun enacting such legislation to narrow the liability limits related to and stemming from COVID-19.

On June 26, 2020, the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 359, also known as the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act.” The Act, currently awaits final approval by Governor Brian Kemp pending his office’s legal review.

Although the various pieces of legislation may contain similarities, each law differs from state-to-state in a manner that leaves healthcare providers, businesses, and individuals vulnerable to differing rules and regulations related to COVID-19 liability across their respective footprints.