COVID-19 Liability Reform: New Arizona Law Protects Front Line Workers and Employers

This week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1377, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Vince Leach, that will protect employers, schools, religious organizations and healthcare workers from excessive civil litigation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Small businesses need certainty under the law that if they act in good faith, they’ll be protected from frivolous lawsuits,” Senator Leach said.

This bill provides immunity from civil liability in relation to COVID-19, as long as the entity operated safely and complied with applicable laws and guidance. While the bill adopts a presumption of good faith, evidence of willful conduct disregarding laws and guidance does not prevent an entity from being sued. Governor Ducey stated that he wants to make sure that both health care heroes serving on the front lines and vulnerable Arizonans are heard and protected as employers seek to reopen during COVID-19.

Economic recovery has become a top priority for states in 2021, and many governors and legislatures have set their eyes on liability protection laws to stop non-profits, health care professionals, and other employers from being subjected to frivolous lawsuits. In Florida, for example, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a similar bill into law last week. As more employers are seeking to reopen and provide job opportunities, states are enacting liability protection laws that will mitigate lawsuit abuse and unnecessary liability burdens.

The ALEC model Liability Protection for Employers in a Declared Disaster or Public Emergency Act, provides ideas to consider as employers in states seek to reopen. This includes imposing limitations on liability if the entity complied with or made a good faith effort to comply with applicable federal, state or local regulations, executive orders or guidance, or if the entity complied with applicable federal or state statutes passed or issued in response to COVID-19.