Current Special Session to Include COVID-19 Liability Legislation

Dear Citizens:  A week after Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo called on Gov. Mike Parson to expand the scope of the current special session, the governor responded by asking lawmakers to work on COVID-19 liability legislation. Now, legislators who had already returned to Jefferson City to work on a supplemental budget bill will also consider liability protections for health care providers, manufacturers, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofit organizations, among others.  

In calling for the governor to expand the scope of the special session, Vescovo noted that “there are simple steps we can take to support our struggling businesses, as well as the hospitals and health care workers trying to keep Missourians safe.” He said, “Right now there are numerous small businesses afraid to open because of the threat of litigation tied to COVID-19.

Additionally, many of our hospitals and health care professionals are asking us to help them to better be able to do their jobs by passing commonsense COVID-19 liability protections.”

As he expanded the call of the session, Parson noted that during the pandemic Missouri’s hospitals and health care providers have altered practices and operations accordingly to respond and provide care to COVID-19 patients. He also pointed out that manufacturers, businesses, and many other entities across the state have modified operations, provided equipment and supplies, and remained open to ensure continued access to basic goods and services for Missouri citizens. 

The legislation the governor has asked lawmakers to consider includes three main provisions regarding liability protection: 

  • Liability protection for health care workers who provide care as necessitated by a declared state of emergency
  • Products liability protection for any person who designs, manufactures, labels, sells, distributes, or donates products in direct response to a declared state of emergency
  • Premises liability protection for exposure claims related to a declared state of emergency 

Parson said, “Since the start of COVID-19, our health care providers have gone above and beyond to respond to COVID-19 and provide exceptional care in an unprecedented and rapidly changing environment. Many other organizations across the state have also been instrumental in our response efforts, including manufacturers, businesses, churches, and schools, just to name a few.”

He added, “None of these groups should be penalized for their efforts to respond to a declared state of emergency. They must be able to continue operating and serving the public without risk of unnecessary and frivolous claims.”

The Missouri House met Tuesday, November 10 to approve a supplemental budget bill designed to provide additional resources to respond to COVID-19. The legislation is now in the hands of the Senate, which plans to meet soon to consider it. Lawmakers will now work to pass the COVID-19 legislation before they conclude the special session.