New Bill Would Protect NJ Businesses from COVID-19 Lawsuits

TOMS RIVER, NJ  –  New Jersey Senate Republicans have introduced a bill which would grant immunity to businesses against any claims stemming from COVID-19. The bill, S-2502/A-4189, protects restaurants, store owners, and other businesses from lawsuits filed by individuals who claim they were exposed to the virus at an establishment.

“As small businesses prepare to reopen, we believe owners can comply with safety regulations to a degree that warrants legal protection from both their patrons and their employees,” one member of the party said. “The fear of a lawsuit is the last thing a small business owner needs while they are trying to financially stay afloat.”

The bill provides immunity to businesses against claims for damage to individuals arising from exposure to the coronavirus at premises owned or operated by the employer. The immunity provided in this bill shall not apply to willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or the intentional infliction of harm.

“They’re concerned that anyone who goes to their store could claim to have been exposed to the virus there,” said Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin who is currently under investigation by a member of the Toms River Township Council for political corruption and extortion claims.  “That’s going to have a chilling effect on people trying to open their business.”

The legislators feel this bill is important to restoring the economy by removing the risk of costly actions for damage arising from exposure to the virus.  New Jersey’s economy is suffering and small businesses have been greatly affected by the shutdown due to the Governor’s executive orders. With the reopening of small businesses on the horizon, many owners will be implementing strong safety measures to protect both their customers and their employees.

“Businesses are going above and beyond to follow safety guidelines in order to reopen, however the threat of frivolous lawsuits is a real concern,” said another assemblyman.  “Many small businesses have the ability to keep their stores sanitized and protect their employees better than big box stores ever could. The reopening of main streets in our state can be done without a fear of potential lawsuits.”

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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