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ISSA Issues Summary of State-by-State Liability Protections

October 14, 2020 ISSA Issues Summary of State-by-State Liability Protections

ISSA has been tracking and advocating at both the state and federal levels for liability protections for essential businesses that have taken precautions to protect their employees from the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. These businesses face the threat of lawsuits alleging that someone contracted COVID-19 on their premises, the costs of which could be significant to fight.

The cleaning industry continues to work tirelessly to protect Americans from COVID-19 through the critical provision of cleaning and disinfecting products and services. However, as these workers and businesses keep our communities safe and healthy, ISSA members remain concerned that, despite doing their best to follow applicable state and federal guidelines, they may be forced to defend against an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, this concern has already begun to materialize.

COVID-19-related lawsuits and their corresponding legal costs could deter entities from reopening and ultimately could cripple cleaning businesses both large and small. Absent timely, targeted, and temporary liability protections, many frontline workers and facilities, as well as manufacturers of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE), could be punished for their efforts in the form of costly lawsuits.

As seen in the image above, a number of states have already acted to limit COVID-19-related liability, through the introduction and passage of legislation and executive orders. State lawmakers have introduced dozens of so-called “shield bills” that limit COVID-19-related liability for businesses, schools, and caregivers, as the pandemic has sown divisiveness and rancor, creating a fertile ground for lawsuits.

In July of this year, U.S. Senate Republicans introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act, which, if enacted, would provide protections for all businesses that made reasonable efforts to comply with government guidance. However, the legislation would not protect “bad actors” that failed to take reasonable efforts to comply and acted with gross negligence or committed intentional misconduct. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY-R) has stated publicly that if the Senate passes another stimulus package, the legislation will include liability relief.

“ISSA continues to monitor and advocate for reasonable liability protections on behalf of the cleaning industry,” said John Nothdurft, ISSA Director of Government Affairs. “And we will engage even further on this important issue for our members in 2021.”

ISSA is working diligently to support the full spectrum of the cleaning industry, in the U.S. and worldwide, during the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing a variety of government affairs resources. Please consider supporting the ISSA Advocacy Fund in any amount to help us achieve liability protections for essential businesses that have taken precautions to protect their employees from the spread of COVID-19. For questions regarding ISSA advocacy, including liability protection legislation, please contact John Nothdurft, ISSA Director of Government Affairs.