Senate Bill Would Immunize Nursing Homes That Ignore Risks to Staff, Residents

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.

MICHIGAN NURSING HOME ACCUSED OF RIPPING MASKS OFF OF WORKERS: The two sons of a 68-year-old woman who died in a Michigan nursing home, Villages of Lapeer Nursing & Rehabilitation, are suing the company, noting that it would not allow its staff to use personal protective equipment. Three former employees, certified nursing assistants who contracted the virus, also are suing. They allege that the nursing home refused to test residents or staff, wouldn’t allow employees to stay home unless they had a fever, and stopped employees from wearing masks and other protective equipment in the weeks after the pandemic hit Michigan in mid-March. One former employee said that the director of nursing ripped a mask off her face and told her that she was scaring patients. An investigation by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs supports the allegations that management barred staff from wearing protective equipment. So far, 19 residents at the facility have died from COVID-19, accounting for more than half of the coronavirus deaths in the county where it is located. But U.S. Senate Republicans want to grant immunity from liability to nursing homes like Villages of Lapeer that refused to take reasonable steps to protect residents and workers from the coronavirus.

ST. LOUIS PAPER URGES SENATE REPUBLICANS TO ABANDON CORPORATE IMMUNITY: “A major reason civil legal action exists is to make injured parties whole and to deter corporate misbehavior,” the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote in an editorial over the weekend. “In fealty to big business, the Senate is undermining both those imperatives during the worst public health crisis in a century. Until the liability issue is resolved, approval of a new relief package will remain on hold. This obstructionism should stop.” The paper concluded: “Senate leaders should stop holding out for this near-total litigation shield and resume negotiating with House Democrats over a new relief package so America can get back to the business of addressing this crisis.”