State Business Advocacy Groups Urge Support for Civil Liability Protections for COVID-19 Claims

Over 60 business associations, non-profits and local chambers of commerce, including Wisconsin Independent Businesses, sent a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday asking them to sign on and support legislation that would shield Wisconsin businesses, schools, universities and other entities from the threat of predatory lawsuits alleging liability for COVID-19 exposures.

The bill – LRB-6434/2 – is currently being circulated by Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown).

“The legislation would create a safe harbor for all property owners/occupants who are good actors against frivolous lawsuits alleging a plaintiff was infected with COVID-19 at a specific premises,” the letter reads. “The bill is not business community specific and would protect homeowners, non-profits, schools, universities, and any other premises including outdoor events and festivals. The safe harbor would not protect bad actors. An entity would lose the liability exemption if they knowingly violated a public health order or spread COVID-19 by acting in a reckless, wanton, or intentional manner.”

The 60-plus organizations call on the legislature to act quickly to protect businesses, non-profits and individuals who are doing the right thing, while ensuring bad actors could still be held liable.