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1st committee hearing Tuesday on COVID lawsuit immunity


A state House committee will hold its first hearing tomorrow on bills to offer more protections to businesses from COVID-19-related legal actions.

Business groups say among the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 is a new risk of lawsuits filed against them by customers, employees, and vendors.

Brian Calley with the Small Business Association of Michigan said the crisis is evolving and the change often. He said these bills would offer certainty to businesses.

“As long as a business is following the rules then they have protection from frivolous lawsuits,” he said.

The bills would also place a higher burden of proof on plaintiffs who claim a business failed to protect them from COVID-19. The bills would also add liability protections for manufacturers that switch production to make personal protective equipment.

Donna Mackenzie is the president of the Michigan Association for Justice, a lobbying organization for trial attorneys. She said the bills are not necessary because businesses are already protected against frivolous lawsuits.

“It is very difficult to prove something called ‘causation,’ and that is something your business did caused your patron to get coronavirus,” she said. “That is a very difficult burden of proof that already exists under our law.”

Mackenzie said these bills would only make it harder to sue businesses that don’t follow laws and executive orders “…and the employees and the public are not going to be kept safe.”

The bills (HB6030, HB6031, HB6032) are before the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee. 

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.