FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2020
ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES CONTINUES TO ADVOCATE FOR FEDERAL PANDEMIC LIABILITY PROTECTIONS, LEADING EFFORT TO URGE CONGRESS TO CONSIDER SAFE TO WORK ACT
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a coalition with Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr and 20 more state attorneys general who this week co-signed a letter to Congress urging the adoption of the protections contained in the Safe to Work Act. This is the latest action by Attorney General Reyes and his colleagues to help mitigate the threat of frivolous COVID-related litigation for much-needed goods and services while still ensuring victims have necessary legal redress for legitimate claims.
“In the midst of this devastating crisis, the extension of appropriate civil liability protections to small and large businesses, frontline healthcare facilities, schools, colleges, universities, philanthropic and religious non-profits, local government and other critical providers is crucial,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Utah has already put legal safeguards in place. But our economy needs these protections at both the state and federal level to provide stability for those trying to provide much-needed services while dealing with evolving science, differing standards and changing government guidelines or mandates. This bill deters expensive and frivolous lawsuits while still allowing meritorious and deserving claims to go forward. ”
An excerpt from the letter is below:
“The undersigned Attorneys General, representing 22 states, are encouraged to see the introduction of S. 4317, the Safe to Work Act, by U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, and we urge you to adopt the COVID-19 civil liability protections included in this important legislation. As we wrote in our previous letter dated May 11, 2020, we believe this framework for federal pandemic liability protections will benefit all of our states and citizens as we continue working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the detrimental impact it has had on our state economies.
“Attorneys General have a responsibility to protect the interests of the residents of our states. Notably, it is the role of the Attorney General to help maintain a stable legal and regulatory environment. We have seen the tragedies and widespread loss of life that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in our states. We have also observed firsthand the livelihoods that have been lost due to joblessness, business closures, and the abandonment of traditional activities in daily lives and places of work.
“As the economies in our states have started reopening, and as we continue to work to protect public health, safety, and the economic security of our residents, the need for a stable, predictable legal environment has never been greater. In order to avoid even greater damage to our economy and people’s livelihoods, it is important that we are able to continue the operation of our free enterprise system, safely and appropriately, and to protect schools, colleges, and nonprofit organizations.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to create a surge in frivolous civil litigation targeting well-intentioned businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that have implemented and utilized applicable pandemic mitigation measures. In fact, lawsuits are already being filed. We know that in order for our economy to fully recover, customers and employees have to have the confidence to return to the marketplace, students need to be able to safely return to school, and at the same time, entities of all types that follow applicable guidelines need to be protected from devastating civil liability litigation concerning baseless COVID-related claims. Therefore, we are encouraged by this common-sense framework to provide federal liability protections for much-needed goods and services while still ensuring victims are able to seek legal redress and compensation where appropriate.
“As you are probably aware, states across the country have taken steps to address the need for timely, targeted and temporary civil liability protections in light of the pandemic, but the need for a uniform national baseline of liability protection still exists. As such, we are very encouraged by the introduction and consideration of this important framework for federal pandemic liability protections while still preserving states’ autonomy to tailor protections based on each one’s unique circumstances.
“If adopted, these important protections will lead to meaningful results for our states, and we look forward to supporting the implementation of this type of legislation in any way we can.”
Joining Utah, the following state attorneys general also signed on to the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
A copy of the full letter is attached here.