News

Announcement from WMC WISCONSIN'S CHAMBER:

February 25, 2021

Gov. Evers Signs Special Session Senate Bill Shielding Businesses from COVID-19 Lawsuits

Earlier today Gov. Tony Evers signed 2021 Special Session Senate Bill 1 into Law as 2021 Act 4. This Act contains a liability shield that protect businesses - and other entities - from predatory COVID-19 related lawsuits.

Section 8 of the Act outlines one of the most robust COVID-19 liability shields in the country. The provision does the following:                                                                                                  

  • Creates immunity from civil liability for an entity due to alleged injury or death from COVID-19 in the course of or through the performance of the entity's functions or services.
  • This immunity does not apply if an act or omission involves reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct.
  • An entity is defined as, "partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity, tribal government, tribal entity, or other legal entity, including a school, institution of higher education, or nonprofit organization. 'Entity' incudes an employer or business owner., employee, agent, or independent contractor of the entity, regardless of whether the person is paid or an unpaid volunteer."
  • The immunity is retroactive to March 1, 2020, except for cases that have already been filed by the date of enactment.

WMC has advocated for a meaningful and easy-to-understand liability shield against COVID-19 related lawsuits for responsible businesses for over a year, since WMC released its Relief & Recovery Agenda last spring.

In early December, WMC led a coalition of more than 70 organizations including business groups, chambers of commerce and others asking Gov. Evers and the legislature to approve this type of liability reform legislation.

The Senate passed the bill last week 27-3, and the Assembly approved it on Tuesday 89-0.

Following the bill being signed into law, WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer released this statement: "Wisconsin businesses and may other organizations have spent the last year taking every possible step to keep their workers, customers and the public safe. While they did everything right to protect the health and safety of others, this legislation will now protect them from costly and predatory COVID-19 lawsuits. WMC and our members than lawmakers for their bipartisan support of this legislation that will allow employers to focus on our state's economic recovery."

WMC General Counsel and Director of Tax, Transportation & Legal Affairs Cory Fish can be contacted at cfish@wmc.org with any questions related to the above.


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