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Liability shield for businesses emerges as new fight over reopening

Liability shield for businesses emerges as new fight over reopening

by ALEX GANGITANO AND JOHN KRUZEL -The Hill  |  Published on April 30, 2020

The business community is pressuring the White House and Congress to shield companies from lawsuits as they seek to reopen, setting up a politically charged battle at a time when coronavirus restrictions around the country are beginning to ease.

As Congress considers more legislation to jolt the economy back to life, Democrats, labor unions and trial attorneys have voiced fierce opposition to a liability shield for employers. But top Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration appear eager to extend businesses of all sizes a layer of legal protection from any coronavirus-related litigation.

The debate over liability protections has quickly emerged as a new sticking point as Congress weighs another round of coronavirus relief aid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the GOP-controlled Senate won’t pass a bill providing more assistance to state and local governments if it doesn’t include those legal protections.

“Imagine you are a businessman thinking about reopening, and you’ve heard that the trial lawyers all over the country are sharpening their pencils getting ready to sue you, claiming that you didn’t engage in proper distancing or other issues related to health and safety,” McConnell said this week on Fox News.

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