The threat of unfounded lawsuits is real
NFIB testified in support of Michigan Senate and House bills that would shield a business or organization from COVID-19 lawsuits brought by customers, or other third parties. House Bills 6030 – 6032 and Senate Bills 1023 and 1024 would require that a plaintiff in a COVID-19 lawsuit against a small business prove that the business knowingly failed to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and that the failure caused the injury.
As Michigan small businesses struggle to recover from Michigan’s COVID-19 shutdown, the threat of unfounded lawsuits from trial lawyers poses a new challenge. NFIB is working at both the state and federal level to assure that small businesses that take reasonable steps to follow public health guidelines will be protected against needless lawsuits.
Without such liability protections, plaintiff’s attorneys could sue small businesses for “phantom-injuries” that seek compensation for “emotional distress” or injuries that cannot be documented to have occurred on the premises of the small business owner. NFIB State Director Charlie Owens told both House and Senate Committees that trial attorney’s have a history of “shaking down” small businesses by threatening them with such meritless lawsuits unless they settle out of court. Most small businesses settle because they cannot afford the legal costs of proving they did nothing wrong.
Michigan’s small businesses who have fought to survive over the course of this pandemic should be able to reopen and get back to work without fear of unnecessary and costly legal battles. NFIB will continue efforts to pass this legislation and have it signed into law as soon as possible so Michigan can get back to work.
Listen to NFIB make the case for small business liability protections on the WJR Guy Gordon Show HERE.