With COVID cases rising, new law will shield Missouri businesses from lawsuits

Luetkemeyer

By TESSA WEINBERG
Missouri Independent

As a new surge of COVID cases overtakes Missouri, businesses, healthcare providers and houses of worship will soon be shielded from most COVID-related lawsuits under a bill Gov. Mike Parson signed Wednesday.

Senate Bill 51, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, provides sweeping protections for businesses unless a high standard of proof can be met. It was killed and revived in the last weeks of the legislative session and ultimately passed in the session’s final hour despite some lawmakers’ concerns about its scope.

The bill became the last remaining option to pass COVID liability protections — one of Parson’s top priorities for the session — after acrimony in the Senate led to a filibuster and early adjournment ending any path forward for a more pared-down House version.

As he signed the bill from the state Capitol Wednesday, Parson said more than 200 businesses in the state “stepped up” and retooled their companies to respond to the pandemic.

“This is to protect those businesses,” Parson said. “The last thing we need to do is punish anybody for trying to help in the middle of a crisis or pandemic.”

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