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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
MCCONNELL PROPOSES CORPORATE IMMUNITY TO 2025: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday floated the idea of blocking coronavirus-related lawsuits for five years. Industry groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claim that they are seeking only a narrow and targeted legal immunity. But McConnell’s proposal would wipe out claims that workers, consumers or patients might have against businesses for harms related to the coronavirus between December 2019 and the end of 2024. If there were any doubt that McConnell and the Chamber are attempting to use the pandemic to accomplish a decades-old wish for broad business immunity from liability, McConnell’s statement on Friday surely removes it.
INDUSTRY FEAR OF LAWSUITS IS OVERBLOWN – IT’S HARD TO PROVE WHERE YOU CAUGHT COVID-19: One reason that industry fears of coronavirus-related lawsuits are greatly exaggerated is that it would be extremely difficult for a consumer or worker to establish where they caught COVID-19. In addition, the person would have to show that the business acted negligently or with deliberate indifference to health and safety risks. And if an injured worker or consumer could show harm resulting from the company’s negligence or deliberate indifference to health and safety? How can McConnell justify immunity in those circumstances?
THURSDAY HEARING ON REOPENING COLLEGES LIKELY TO ADDRESS IMMUNITY: On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions will hold a hearing on how to reopen colleges and universities amid the pandemic, and the question of immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits is expected to come up. The ranking member of this committee, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), declared her strong opposition to immunity for colleges last week, saying that immunity will not help make students, teachers, administrators and employees safer. For that, we need clear, specific, enforceable, science-based health and safety standards.