Tuesday, May 12, 2020

ATA applauds Gov. Ivey’s executive order to protect businesses from COVID-19 litigation

The Alabama Trucking Association is praising Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s recent executive order that offers protection for businesses, health care providers, universities, public institutions of higher education, and their employees, officers and agents from unwarranted legal liability stemming from COVID-19.

ATA President and CEO Mark Colson said the measure is needed to protect businesses as state government officials begin to restart the state’s economy.

“Truckers remain on the front lines of the crisis response,” Colson said, “and we will be on the front lines of the economic recovery, as well. But to do so, trucking, as well as all businesses, need protection from frivolous lawsuits. We commend the governor for her courage to take this crucial step to ensure businesses can continue to drive Alabama’s economy without the fear of a frivolous lawsuit.”

However, Colson added, looking long term it is just as essential that the legislature eventually passes civil liability protections for businesses and their employees.

“I look forward to working with the Legislature and other business organizations to achieve that,” he said

Legal experts say the order curtails potential liability of businesses resulting from COVID-19 transmissions as well as from the impacts of a business’s response to the public health emergency. These limitations take the form of certain immunities from liability and place caps on damages.

That means a “business, health care provider, or other covered entity shall not be liable for the death or injury to persons or for damage to property in any way arising from any act or omission related to, or in connection with, COVID-19 transmission or a covered COVID-19 response activity unless a claimant shows by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged death, injury or damage was caused by an entity’s wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct.”

The governor added, however, that her proclamation in no way shields businesses from liability for serious misconduct. “If someone knowingly abuses the public during a time of crisis, they should be held accountable and prosecuted as such,” she said.

Governor Ivey’s most recent Proclamation supplements her March 13, 2020 order, which declared a state public health emergency due to the spread of COVID-19.