Ten states have either passed legislation or had their governors sign executive orders granting business immunity from civil liability for coronavirus (COVID-19) related lawsuits, according to the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) NAHB Now blog. Additionally, the governors of 21 states sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking that civil liability protections for businesses, schools, and health care workers be considered in the next COVID-19 protection package.

Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Mississippi have passed legislation, while governors from Arkansas and Alabama signed executive orders. The Georgia Senate approved a measure and is waiting on the House chamber for consideration.

The bills signed into law go beyond the immunity that 30 states granted to health care providers and nine states granted to companies making personal protective equipment, or PPE, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. They are welcomed by businesses that remained open during the crisis – essential businesses like groceries, transportation, and several others – as well as those now beginning to reopen.

All 10 states said that a business is not liable unless they acted with “wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct.” Arkansas and Louisiana did not extend the immunity to workers’ compensation claims.

Mississippi added language saying “the immunities provided in this act shall not apply where the plaintiff shows, by clear and convincing evidence, that a defendant, or any employee or agent thereof, acted with actual malice or willful, intentional misconduct.” This language is similar to what other states are proposing.

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