Nursing Homes with Poor Safety Records Lobby for Legal Immunity

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT IMMUNITY

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.

NURSING HOMES WITH POOR SAFETY RECORDS LOBBY FOR IMMUNITY: According to The New York Times, nursing homes with safety problems are deploying lobbyists with connections to President Donald Trump to pressure Congress to block residents and their families from suing nursing homes for wrongful deaths and other malpractice claims – even those that have nothing to do with the coronavirus. Even before the pandemic started many nursing homes had poor records when it came to safety and staffing. A report from the Government Accountability Office found that many nursing homes failed to maintain basic infection-control standards, including quarantining sick residents or requiring frequent hand washing. Moreover, some nursing homes with high death tolls from the virus have been cited by regulators for safety and other problems.

LIABILITY NEEDED TO DISCOURAGE CUTTING CORNERS: “Immunity from civil liability is not the kind of immunity we need to end this crisis,” Georgia State University Law Professor Timothy D. Litton wrote in USA Today. “The real problem facing the country is not that companies don’t care at all about their customers and employees or want to infect them with COVID-19. The more serious concern is that corporate managers and small-business owners facing significant financial pressure from the crisis – including the risk of losing their businesses altogether – will not properly weigh the public health costs of their actions.”

MORE THAN 30 HOUSE LAWMAKERS SIGN LETTER OPPOSING CORPORATE IMMUNITY: Earlier this month, in a letter to congressional leaders, U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) joined more than 30 lawmakers, led by U.S. Reps. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), in calling for the exclusion of the sweeping corporate immunity provisions in the forthcoming COVID-19 relief package. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities across our country, we urge you to provide businesses with clear, enforceable standards so that they can reopen and operate safely and without fear. We also call on you to reject any call for federal corporate immunity which is unnecessary and will only harm American workers and consumers,” the lawmakers wrote.