The COVID Crisis: Coalition Calls On Gov. Cuomo To Further Protect Essential Businesses And Services From Lawsuits

April 15, 2020

A coalition of business advocates today delivered a letter to Governor Cuomo and the legislature recommending increased liability protections for activities and relief efforts related to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

While urging the enactment of new measures to protect New Yorkers, their businesses, and premises from future litigation, the coalition thanked the Executive Chamber, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins for protections already provided to volunteer healthcare workers, doctors, and hospitals.

“Governor Cuomo’s leadership and the legislature’s dedication to protecting workers and mitigating the damage to the socio-economic fabric of modern life are proving invaluable during this unprecedented health crisis,” the group writes.

“We applaud the Governor’s action to provide reasonable liability protections to the state’s medical professionals under Executive Order 202.10. We also salute the legislature and Governor for expanding those protections to medical facilities as part of the budget process.”

The letter goes on to advocate for extending liability protections to additional parties including:

  • Manufacturers doing their part to produce COVID-related products, like a distillery making hand sanitizer. While some products will be protected by the PREP Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services has yet to issue guidelines for which activities will be immune from liability. The state must do its part to protect both products and facilities from future litigation.
  • Owners, occupants or managers of properties, such as hotels or schools, that are used in any way as part of the relief effort.
  • Drivers, contractors used in any way to provide transportation or related services as part of the relief effort.
  • Property owners and contractors engaged in essential construction – specifically relief from Labor Law §§ 240 and 241’s absolute liability provisions, including unique liability theories under § 241(6).
  • Pharmacies, retailers, senior care facilities, municipalities, and public authorities.

“Providing liability protections to our medical professionals, healthcare facilities, and to the valiant volunteers who have returned to medical service, was an important first step. Taking additional steps to shield our economy from unique liability exposures and tabling any proposals that may further negatively affect businesses will help provide some certainty in these truly uncertain times,” the letter concludes.

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing lawsuit abuse for the benefit of all New Yorkers.

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