140 Groups Now Oppose Immunity; Nursing Homes Want Immunity and New York Regrets Giving It to Them

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT IMMUNITY

Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a daily tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why Congress should not give corporations legal immunity from coronavirus-related harms to workers, consumers, patients and the public. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

140 GROUPS NOW OPPOSE CORPORATE IMMUNITY: A total of 140 groups have signed a letter calling on Congress not to grant businesses immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. That’s up from 118 groups that signed the letter in April. The groups agree that if businesses are not accountable to workers and consumers, the country will experience more illnesses, more dangerous workplaces and stores and more premature deaths.

NURSING HOMES WANT LEGAL IMMUNITY: Nursing homes account for a staggering share of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., yet the nursing home industry is demanding legal immunity for the consequences of its actions. Already, residents’ ability to hold nursing homes accountable has been drastically cut back through mandatory arbitration clauses and class-action bans that nursing homes commonly force residents to sign, which require residents to waive their right to a day in court. And the industry is known to have longstanding problems with lax health and safety standards, combined with weak oversight. Neither those problems nor the skyrocketing pandemic death toll in nursing homes will be solved by blocking access to justice. Safer practices are the answer – not legal immunity.

NEW YORK REGRETS GRANTING NURSING HOMES IMMUNITY: In March, aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo quietly inserted a provision into the state budget bill granting nursing homes immunity from most lawsuits over their failure to protect residents from the coronavirus. Weeks later, at least 5,300 nursing home residents are believed to have died from the pandemic, due in part to poor staffing and shoddy conditions – yet the new law blocks their families from holding the facilities accountable. Now, as New York lawmakers scramble to repeal the ill-conceived measure, federal lawmakers cannot make the same mistake.