The Business Council of Alabama applauded the members of the Alabama Legislature for the passage of Senate Bill 30, which provides much-needed COVID-19 civil liability protections to businesses and other entities. The bill passed through both chambers and is on its way to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and carried in the House of Representatives by state Rep. David Faulkner, R-Homewood. SB30 provides civil immunity for covered entities operating in Alabama from certain claims and damages claimed by individuals who allege they contracted or were exposed to COVID-19 as long as those entities make an effort to adequately follow government issued guidelines related to operating in the COVID-19 environment.
“BCA is thrilled that this important piece of legislation has passed,” said Katie Boyd Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. “Businesses throughout Alabama are continuing to do all they can to keep their employees and customers safe while also allowing hardworking Alabamians the opportunity to provide for their families. This legislation provides the necessary protections for businesses large and small as they continue to revive jobs and restore production throughout our state.”
Exceptions to this immunity would exist if the covered entity acted with wanton, reckless, willful or intentional misconduct. Such misconduct must be proven under a “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard. These protections would apply to businesses, non-profits, LLCs, health care providers, cooperative corporations, educational entities, churches, governmental entities and cultural institutions operating in the state.
“This legislation will shield those in the business community who prudently followed State Health Orders, CDC, and other governmental health guidelines,” Orr said. “Businesses have worked diligently to keep people safe and their doors open, and they should be protected; however, ‘bad actors’ will not receive the same protections.”
Legislation to provide such coverage has been greatly needed as Alabama continues its economic recovery. Throughout the country, more than 2,000 lawsuits relating to COVID have been filed in federal and state courts against businesses by employees, customers and clients.
Earlier in 2020, BCA and other partners in the business community worked alongside Ivey in securing liability protection for businesses and the healthcare community by means of an executive order, making Alabama one of the first states in the nation to secure such a win for business.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 28 to 1 on Thursday, Feb. 4. The bill was later passed by the House on Feb. 11 by a vote of 86 to 4 before being sent to the governor’s desk. This legislation will be retroactive and apply to causes of action filed on or after March 13, 2020, which is the date when the governor declared a public health emergency.