Support Liability Reform Bill in Special Legislative Session

During Monday’s special session of the Idaho Legislature, legislators will be asked to decide if Idaho should have a policy that provides immunity from a civil lawsuit for those who make a good faith effort to continue to operate safely during a disaster or pandemic.  IACI strongly encourages support of the legislation.

In order to move back to economic health and/or open schools and businesses, the threat of lawsuits during a pandemic in Idaho is extremely disruptive.  Employers, schools and governments that are doing their best to do the right thing deserve some protection from legal liability in the face of unprecedented challenges.  The citizens need these protections provided by the Idaho Legislature to be able to completely reopen the economy.  Employers and schools should not have to operate in fear of lawsuits from their customers and students.

There are thousands of lawsuits that have already been filed nationwide.  The threat is very real.  Without swift legislative action, there are no limits to who can be sued for issues involving a disaster or pandemic.  If a child gets Covid-19 at school, the district, the principal, the teacher or anyone else involved could be threatened with liability.  The same is true for all manufacturers/employers who are told they are “essential businesses” and must stay open, but then face liability from the public and employees, even if they are acting in good faith to provide a safe work environment in ever-changing circumstances.

Pandemics are times of incredible uncertainty with constantly shifting guidance.  If an employer, school district, or church makes a good faith effort to help citizens and operate as an essential service, they should not have liability heaped on them by creative trial lawyers.  The Idaho Legislature has a responsibility to provide a rational and stable legal environment especially during a crisis.  We need to protect those who are doing their best to keep their workers, children and the citizens of the state safe by heightening the standard for bringing a lawsuit.

Let’s be clear on what the legislation does not do. The legislation does not apply to those who are being reckless or intentionally harm someone in their efforts.  This legislation will not impact worker’s compensation.  This legislation will not shield federal or national governments.

This legislation will provide a shield for school districts, churches and employers that are acting in good faith to comply with the law and provide safe places to learn, work, shop and worship.  IACI member businesses that are keeping the lights on, the water running, the food on the shelves, and the lumber supplies to rebuild are helping Idaho recover.  They’re not only critical to Idaho; they’re critical to the nation.  Without this important legislation, the livelihood of thousands of Idahoans is under threat by opportunistic trial lawyers.  Contact your local legislators (208-332-1000) and let them know you want them to do the right thing and vote in support of this crucial bill.

Alex LaBeau

Alex LaBeau

He became the fifth president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry in September of 2006. He has participated extensively on IACI’s Public Affairs and Tax Policy Committees since 1993 on behalf of the Idaho Association of Realtors.

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