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Coalition urges Congress to include liability protections in next COVID relief package

February 04, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA and a coalition of over 580 stakeholders is urging Congress to include targeted and temporary liability protections in the next COVID-19 relief package.

In a Feb. 1 letter, the coalition — led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform — told lawmakers that implementing these protections is critical to helping safeguard educational institutions, health care providers, businesses and non-profit organizations from unfair lawsuits.

The groups noted that as COVID-19 continues to surge across the country, many who remain on the front lines and continue to serve their communities are burdened by the threat of unfair litigation. They noted that in 2020 plaintiffs spent more than $23 million on COVID-19-related lawsuit advertisements, “a clear indication” that a litigation wave could be on the horizon.

“As employers, educational institutions, and others answer President Biden’s very appropriate call for face coverings and other protective steps, they should not have to worry that their actions will invite costly and unnecessary litigation,” the coalition wrote. “The time for federal action implementing liability protections from such litigation is now.”

The groups urged Congress to include balanced liability relief provisions similar to last Congress’ Safe to Work Act (S 4317) in any further COVID-19 relief legislation so that “unfair lawsuits will not hamper” entities who work to comply with applicable government guidelines.

“We also believe these protections should be limited in duration and scope in addition to preserving reasonable recourse for those harmed by truly bad actors,” they added.

“In the wake of prior crises, Congress came together to pass needed liability protections with strong bipartisan support because lawmakers understood the acute threat of lawsuits at moments of maximum economic vulnerability,” the letter concluded. “That threat is present again now. As such, Congress must take strong action now and provide a national baseline of liability protection during this national pandemic to prevent a wave of lawsuits from inhibiting our return to a robust economy and healthy citizenry.”

For more information about the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.