Small Businesses Grateful for NJ Bill That Provides Immunity from Lawsuits Over COVID-19 Exposure
Will help businesses following safety guidelines in good faith, but not protect bad actors
TRENTON (May 28, 2020) – Companion bills introduced today in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate that provide immunity to businesses that act in good faith and follow safety protocols during the state’s economic reopening will help ensure the survival of many small businesses. NFIB, an association representing thousands of small businesses across New Jersey, supports this legislation because innocent business owners who did all that was expected of them can lose their business due simply to the high cost of a legal defense.
“You have so many small businesses trying to stay alive after being forced to shut down that have little cash left, so a single lawsuit could wipe them out even if the owner did nothing wrong,” said Eileen Kean, state director of NFIB in New Jersey. “Traditionally, small businesses settle lawsuits even when they aren’t culpable because they simply can’t afford the legal expense of going to trial. This bill will help those who act in good faith and follow all the state’s health and safety guidelines during the reopening.”
The bills, S-2502 and A-4189, would provide immunity to businesses against claims for damage to individuals arising out of exposure to the COVID-19 on the premises owned or operated by the employer, or during activity managed by the employer. The immunity would not apply to willful misconduct or reckless or intentional infliction of harm.
“This is a critical time to revive the state’s economy and small businesses will be a large part of that effort since they employ half the state’s workforce,” added Kean. “This bill won’t be protecting the bad guys who are reckless or willful, just the small businesses who are navigating a difficult situation and are doing all that they should to protect public safety.”
NFIB applauds the sponsors of these companion bills, Senator Jim Holzapfel, and Assemblymen John Catalano and Greg McGuckin. If the bill passes and is signed into Governor Phil Murphy, it would take effect immediately.
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.