Missouri Senate OKs bill to limit COVID-19 lawsuits

COVID-19 coronavirus
Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 18:25:26-05

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri senators passed a bill Tuesday to shield hospitals, manufacturers and other businesses from lawsuits over alleged wrongdoing during the pandemic.

The GOP-led Senate voted 20-13 in favor of the bill, which now goes to the Republican-led state House.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson and business groups have been pushing lawmakers to pass legislation shielding businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19. Supporters argue businesses shouldn't be punished for trying to help during the pandemic, but critics warn the measure would limit people's access to the courts.

The pending bill would prevent lawsuits against businesses unless someone can prove they were exposed there and sickened by the coronavirus and that the business was acting recklessly or committed willful misconduct.

Hospitals also would be shielded from lawsuits unless doctors commit "recklessness or willful misconduct," which is a legal standard that's more difficult to prove in court than the current liability standard they face.

The bill also would shield churches and other religious organizations from any lawsuits over exposure to COVID-19 unless the person who got sick can prove the organization committed intentional misconduct.

People hurt by defective masks or other products couldn't sue unless they prove the manufacturer acted with recklessness or committed willful misconduct that injured them.