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Chamber of Commerce Wrote Initial Draft of the Senate GOP’s Corporate Immunity Bill


Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a 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. See our past tipsheets here. The tipsheet will go out on Mondays and Thursdays through mid-September. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

CORPORATE IMMUNITY BILL DRAFTED BY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The U.S. Senate Republicans’ corporate immunity bill started with a draft authored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, according to one of its top executives. The Chamber then worked “very closely” with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on “what [liability] reforms look like in” the Senate bill. The Chamber, which for decades has lobbied on behalf of giant corporations to limit people’s ability to hold businesses accountable, is the highest-spending lobbying group on Capitol Hill – having spent more than $1.6 billion on lobbying since 1998, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Its employees, members and affiliated political action groups have given more than $31,000 to McConnell’s reelection campaign this year and at least $10,000 to Cornyn, who introduced the Chamber’s corporate immunity legislation in the Senate.

SMALL NUMBER OF CALIFORNIA LAWSUITS SHOWS FEARS OF LITIGATION ARE OVERBLOWN: Despite more than 680,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 12,500 deaths in California, fewer than 50 coronavirus-related lawsuits in the state involve claims for personal injury, wrongful death or inadequate safety measures, the Los Angeles Times reported. Of the more than 550 lawsuits filed in California related to the pandemic, tracked by law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, most involve matters such as companies’ disputes with insurers or small businesses suing banks over disputes about rescue loans. Other suits seek refunds from universities, airlines, amusement parks or concerts. None of those suits, however, fall within the scope of the corporate immunity bill, which is focused on claims related to coronavirus transmission and civil rights. “There is no tidal wave of COVID-related litigation – and may never be, given the hurdle of proving where exactly anyone was infected,” the paper concluded.