Lawmakers pass bills to protect businesses from Covid 19 liability
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Sign touting curbside pick-up in Jackson
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi Lawmakers are taking up bills to protect businesses from liability because of the coronavirus pandemic.



Debate at times is heated over House Bill 1783, the Back to Business Liability Assurance Act. The measure would limit the liability of businesses, individuals and manufacturers due to Covid 19. House Republican Henry Zuber of Ocean Springs authored the bill.

“If there is no actual knowledge or intent to harm somebody that business owner and that manufacturer of that product will have immunity,” said Zuber.

Zuber explains a lawsuit would have to prove the person or business acted intentionally with actual malice, backed up by convincing evidence to support the claim. Some Democrats argued the bill would make it nearly impossible to sue someone in a coronavirus-related case. Democrat Shanda Yates of Jackson.

“There is no reason that any business owner would need to have good faith compliance with the CDC guidelines, because lines 73-76 say non-compliance is not enough to show that they’re libel,” said Yates.

Democrat John Hines of Greenville argued, the bar to bring a lawsuit is so high, people have no recourse if they want to pursue a case.

“Would you not agree with me that we are down here to look out for the best interest of Joe Q Public. Would you not agree with me on that?” said Hines. “I think it protects everybody Gentleman,” said Zuber.

Zuber says how a person contracted the virus could be difficult to prove, leaving businesses and the courts overrun with cases.

“Someone can make an allegation that I got this virus any where, at any time from any place gentleman,” said Zuber.

The bill passed the House. A similar measure also passed the Senate. Both bills would be retroactive to the beginning of the governor’s coronavirus state of emergency declaration which was March 14.