Update: Legislation for Business Immunity from Civil Liability for COVID-19 Claims Is Trending

June 19, 2020

Authors: Siobhán A. Breen, Paul S. White

Louisiana has joined North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming in adopting laws that grant businesses immunity from civil liability for claims relating to COVID-19. 

In May 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law House Bill 826 and Senate Bills 491 and 508, whereby Louisiana businesses will receive state protection from most lawsuits involving COVID-19 deaths or injuries. The bills took effect immediately and are retroactive to March 11, 2020. Supporters allegedly stated that the measures will protect businesses that provided or offered needed services to the public despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under House Bill 826 introduced by Representative Thomas Pressly, people will be unable to sue businesses, government agencies, trade show organizers and event planners for civil damages for injuries or death from COVID-19 unless they can prove the high legal standard of gross negligence or willful misconduct. 

Senate Bill 491 introduced by Senator Sharon Hewitt offers the same lawsuit protection to people and businesses donating recovery services or products such as hand sanitizer and protective clothing and those selling that type of disaster aid outside of the typical course and scope of their operations. Hewitt’s protections are said to continue during any declared state of emergency in Louisiana. 

Lastly, Senate Bill 508 introduced by Senator Patrick McMath provides the same limitation of liability to restaurant owners and employees for the coronavirus outbreak, so long as they are deemed in substantial compliance with state, federal and local regulations about the virus. It does not apply to future state emergencies or disasters. 

For more information on this topic, please see our previous alert.

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