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Update: Legislation for Business Immunity from Civil Liability for COVID-19 Claims Is Trending

Louisiana has joined North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming in adopting laws that grant businesses immunity from civil liability for claims relating to COVID-19. 

In May 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law House Bill 826 and Senate Bills 491 and 508, whereby Louisiana businesses will receive state protection from most lawsuits involving COVID-19 deaths or injuries. The bills took effect immediately and are retroactive to March 11, 2020. Supporters allegedly stated that the measures will protect businesses that provided or offered needed services to the public despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under House Bill 826 introduced by Representative Thomas Pressly, people will be unable to sue businesses, government agencies, trade show organizers and event planners for civil damages for injuries or death from COVID-19 unless they can prove the high legal standard of gross negligence or willful misconduct. 

Senate Bill 491 introduced by Senator Sharon Hewitt offers the same lawsuit protection to people and businesses donating recovery services or products such as hand sanitizer and protective clothing and those selling that type of disaster aid outside of the typical course and scope of their operations. Hewitt’s protections are said to continue during any declared state of emergency in Louisiana. 

Lastly, Senate Bill 508 introduced by Senator Patrick McMath provides the same limitation of liability to restaurant owners and employees for the coronavirus outbreak, so long as they are deemed in substantial compliance with state, federal and local regulations about the virus. It does not apply to future state emergencies or disasters. 

© 2020 Wilson ElserNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 171


About this Author

Siobhán A. Breen Associate New York Directors & Officers Liability Insurance & Reinsurance Coverage

Siobhán A. Breen represents primary and excess professional liability insurers and drafts coverage opinions with respect to complex insurance coverage matters involving directors and officers liability, errors and omissions liability, miscellaneous professional liability, lawyers professional liability, and employment practices liability.

Prior to joining Wilson Elser, Siobhán’s practice consisted of insurance coverage and insurance defense litigation. Siobhán has experience in securities class actions, shareholder derivative actions, cyber/privacy actions, and professional...

Paul S. White Partner Insurer Litigation: Coverage/Extra-Contractual Insurance & Reinsurance Coverage Professional Liability & Services

Paul White focuses his practice on complex insurance coverage and bad faith litigation and represents defendants in commercial litigation. Paul's insurance coverage practice includes advising and representing insurers in bad faith litigation and insurance policy disputes, including first-party property policies, general liability coverage, errors and omissions insurance, and media liability insurance. He also advises and represents insurers in subrogation actions on property losses. In addition, Paul has litigated and arbitrated disputes throughout the United States involving domestic and foreign insurance agents and brokers in all lines of coverage. He has broad experience in the business practices of all types of insurance intermediaries, including brokers at every level in the broking process, from producers to managing general agents to London Market brokers.

In his litigation practice, Paul focuses on commercial business litigation, including professional liability actions brought against insurance agents and brokers. In addition to his insurance practice, Paul advises entertainment and technology companies on the management of intellectual property risks.