Ivey Says Businesses That Re-Open Safely Won’t Be Liable for Patrons Who Get COVID-19
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has issued a proclamation that will limit the legal liability of business in the state that re-open if their customers contract the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In a document issued Friday morning, Ivey said practices put into place the slow the spread of COVID-10 have forced countless businesses across the state to close, hurt Alabama's economy and brought economic hardship to people and families statewide.
She goes on to say that encouraging businesses to reopen in a responsible manner will "improve public health," reduce employment and bolster the state's economy but said as a result of the unprecedented uncertainty surrounding the virus and its long-term effects, "businesses have been reluctant to reopen -- or, where partially open, to fully reopen -- for fear of lawsuits and the risk of the associated expense and liability."
Ivey said it is critical that businesses across Alabama get back open in a safe manner, and as such, she is granting "reasonable protections from the risk and expense of lawsuits" to those who do so.
As such, the governor is granting emergency protections to places of business to shield them from legal action related to COVID-19 and its spread.
In her proclamation, Ivey wrote, "as a matter of law, a business, health care provider or other covered entity shall not be liable for negligence, premises liability, or for any non-wanton, non-willful, or non-intentional civil cause of action" related to the transmission of the coronavirus "unless the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence" that the business "did not reasonably attempt to comply with the then applicable public health guidance."
The proclamation adds that even businesses that are found liable can only be required to pay actual economic compensatory damages, not non-economic or punitive damages.