May 14, 2020

Although COVID-19 infections remain prevalent, and in many locations continue to rise, jurisdictions at the federal, state, and local levels are increasingly turning their attention to reopening the economy.  As we have discussed in prior posts, reopening will present multiple challenges, including the threat to businesses that do reopen that they will face bodily injury claims from either employees or customers that contract COVID-19.  Recognizing that the threat of litigation against companies may dissuade them from opening their doors, Congress is turning its attention to the issue of potential business indemnity for civil litigation involving such claims against companies.  The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on this topic on Tuesday.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that a broad liability shield for companies is a top Republican priority while Senate Democrats are expected to oppose such liability shields.  Both plaintiff and defense attorneys, as well as other special interest associations, have also weighed in on the potential pros and cons of such a measure.  Given the large volume of COVID-19 related lawsuits that have been filed, and are expected to be filed in the future, this is a significant issue that we will continue to monitor.