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Immunity From Liability for Nursing Homes Denies Families Justice and Access to Information


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.

In lieu of Thursday’s tipsheet, please join our telepresser (details below) and keep an eye out for our press release.

SHERROD BROWN, PUBLIC CITIZEN TO HOST TELEPRESSER OPPOSING BUSINESS IMMUNITY: Public Citizen and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) will host a telepresser at 12 p.m. EDT Thursday to address proposals backed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that would grant corporations legal immunity from liability for coronavirus-related harms arising from their actions. Brown and Public Citizen’s experts will discuss the legislative debate and why immunizing businesses would make workers, consumers and patients less safe and slow the economic recovery. In addition, Public Citizen will release a report showing that many corporations are failing to respond to employee concerns about unsafe workplaces. The organization also will rebut some of the misleading claims from industry proponents of legal immunity. See here for call-in details.

IMMUNITY FOR NURSING HOMES MEANS FAMILIES ARE DENIED INFORMATION ABOUT LOVED ONES’ FINAL DAYS: Since March, federal officials have curtailed routine inspections and restricted visitors in nursing homes, leaving families with limited ability to obtain information. In addition, several states have granted legal immunity to nursing homes, which deprives families of the ability to hold nursing homes accountable and to uncover information about the circumstances of their relatives’ final days. Families deserve access to information about the circumstances that surround the deaths of their loved ones. Through state-law claims, families have that access; immunity for nursing homes eliminates it.

IMMUNITY FOR UNIVERSITIES CREATES HUGE RISKS FOR STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES: “COVID-19 is worse than an injury that harms only one person,” Jeff Sovern, law professor at St. John’s School of Law warned in The Hill. “A student who gets the virus can transmit it to others, including at-risk family members,” and “can spread the disease to dozens of people. If universities aren’t taking the possibility of liability into account, … they might act in slapdash ways that contribute to the spread of the virus. We want schools to take more precautions against this disease, not fewer.” As Sovern noted, giving schools immunity from liability “pushes in the opposite direction.”