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News & Press: Policy Update

Policy Update: General Assembly Passes COVID-19 Liability Protection

Wednesday, August 12, 2020  
Posted by: TICUA
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On August 3, 2020 Governor Bill Lee called for the convening of an Extraordinary Session of the 111th General Assembly to pass legislation dealing with three key issues: liability protection, tele-health provisions, and issues related to public property.

Leading up to the special session, Governor Lee struck a deal with the leadership of both the House and Senate to provide liability protection against the contraction of the coronavirus for TICUA members as well as the broader business community. While the protections are extended to those who have implemented generally accepted health care guidance, it holds accountable those who fail to take measures to protect those taking advantage of their products or services. 

This afternoon the liability protection legislation overwhelmingly passed the Senate with a vote of 27 ayes to 4 nays and the House with a vote of 80 ayes to 10 nays. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for Lee’s signature.  With the retroactive provision, the protections afforded in the bill take place on August 3, the day Governor Lee called for the special session.

TICUA worked actively to support the legislation. Some of the key components important to private higher education include the following protections:

Contraction of COVID-19 or any subsequent mutation of the virus as claim against a college or university without substantiated cause.
There is no claim of action against a “person or entity” (read college or university) for loss, damage, injury, or death arising from COVID-19 unless the “claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence” that it occurred as a result of “gross negligence or willful misconduct.”
Protections extend to health care interns, residents, students, and fellows.
Claimants must file a verified complaint pleading specific facts with particularity related to the damage or injury.
Claimant also must file a certification of good faith from a duly licensed physician that contraction and related damage was caused by the defendant. 
The effective date of the bill, once passed, will be “the date the Governor issued the proclamation call for the extraordinary session,” (August 3, 2020). 
The protections will expire on July 1, 2022.