The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants Gov. Mike Parson to call a special session to put an end to “opportunistic COVID-19 lawsuits”. In a press release, the Chamber says coronavirus liability is an emerging problem in Missouri involving those who believe they might have contracted the virus at a business and wants to sue the organization.
President Dan Mehan says the Chamber is not calling for protections for businesses that defy government orders and ignore public health recommendations. He wants companies protected that are making a good faith effort and taking the necessary precautions.
During Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, the governor appeared open to the idea of a special session to deal with coronavirus liability.
“It’s quite apparent we’re going to have to deal with the legal challenges that goes along with COVID-19,” says Parson. “Whatever we need to do – calling the legislators back but it won’t be for one individual thing if I call them back. We’ll have some things in place that we need to do. There are still some issues that are very important to the state that need to be addressed. We’re not going to let attorneys go out here and sue everybody because they was doing their jobs of COVID-19. So, whatever it takes to kind of even that playing field, we’re planning on doing it in Missouri.”
Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys President Brett Emison issued a response:
“Missouri already has laws in place to protect health workers during extraordinary circumstances like the COVID-19 crisis. Missourians need not surrender fundamental constitutional rights – including 7th Amendment rights – during a pandemic. If anything, such rights are even more critical. Businesses should take all reasonable precautions as they reopen to protect customers and employees. For our economy to fully reopen, employees and customers must be safe to engage with businesses. If businesses have no accountability, how can employees and customers feel safe? If no one is responsible, no one is safe,” he says.
Some state lawmakers and the governor have said a special session is likely later this year to deal with coronavirus-related issues and funding. After the Legislature adjourned Friday, Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, told reporters he expects a special session would mainly involve budget issues.
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