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GOP’s Legal Immunity Proposal Is a Massive Corporate Giveaway


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.

DURBIN CALLS GOP’S CORPORATE IMMUNITY BILL A MASSIVE CORPORATE GIVEAWAY: “The bill is entirely one-sided in favor of corporations,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wrote in Medium. “A large percentage of the coronavirus-related lawsuits that have been filed so far involve businesses suing other businesses or insurance companies. But the McConnell bill doesn’t stop those suits; it only cuts off the rights of workers and people who get sick. And the bill even allows corporations and Attorney General Bill Barr to sue workers for bringing a claim for COVID infection if the employer deems it meritless.”

CIVIL LIABILITY IS A POWERFUL INCENTIVE AGAINST BUSINESSES CUTTING CORNERS: “Immunity from civil liability is not the kind of immunity we need to end this crisis,” Timothy Lytton, professor of law at Georgia State University concluded in USA Today. “Despite the unlikelihood of being sued, the possibility of civil liability provides a powerful incentive for businesses that might otherwise be tempted to cut corners on safety to exercise reasonable care. Liability exposure is more likely to convince irresponsible corporate managers and business owners than even the direst warnings of public health officials.”

ALEC LOBBYING STATE LEGISLATORS TO ADOPT CORPORATE IMMUNITY: During its July meeting, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) encouraged state legislators to introduce a model liability protection bill in their states. ALEC’s model bill is similar to the proposal that U.S. Senate Republicans included in their latest coronavirus response bill. As Truthout described the organization, “ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where legislators and corporate lobbyists meet behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues. Corporations and right-wing private foundations fund most of ALEC’s operations.”