Corporations Must Be Accountable for Harm Caused by Their Own Negligence

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. Also refer to our tipsheet on misleading claims from industry groups and conservative lawmakers. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

LAWMAKERS REGRET NEW YORK’S IMMUNITY PROVISION: New York state legislators are turning against a provision enacted as part of the state budget law in April that gave hospitals and nursing homes immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) lamented that the provision could be used to grant immunity to a radiologist who failed to detect breast cancer or harm to a child caused by a physician’s mistakes in performing a tonsillectomy. Gottfried is sponsoring legislation to repeal it. Meanwhile, Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) plans hearings on the issue.

LAS VEGAS HOSPITALITY WORKERS HOLD CASINOS ACCOUNTABLE FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY FAILURES: In one of the first efforts to hold employers accountable for COVID-19 infections, Las Vegas Strip hospitality workers filed a lawsuit alleging that casino operators failed to protect employees from the virus. The lawsuit, filed against the owners of Harrah’s, MGM Grand and Bellagio casinos, says the companies didn’t immediately shut down food and beverage outlets and other areas after learning of positive cases, didn’t immediately inform employees when co-workers tested positive and didn’t adequately contact-trace before allowing colleagues of infected employees to return to the job. As infections spike across the country, employees must have the tools to hold employers accountable when they fail to take reasonable steps to keep workers safe.

NURSING HOMES ACCOUNT FOR 43% OF COVID-19 DEATHS: At least 54,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the U.S., according to a database from The New York Times. The virus has infected more than 282,000 people at some 12,000 facilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home populations are at high risk of infection from the coronavirus. COVID-19 is particularly lethal to adults over 60 who have underlying health conditions, and the virus spreads more easily in facilities where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room. Exempting nursing homes from liability for harm caused by unsafe practices would eliminate the primary tool workers, residents and their families have to encourage reasonable safety measures and hold facilities accountable when they fail to take them.