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Missouri bill to block COVID-19 lawsuits hits snag

April 28, 2021 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri bill to shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits failed in committee this week, casting doubt on its chances of passing this year.

A House committee voted the Senate bill down Monday.

The proposal was meant to protect hospitals, manufacturers and other businesses from lawsuits over alleged wrongdoing during the pandemic.

The bill is a top priority for Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

It’s still possible for the proposal to pass before lawmakers’ May 14 deadline. But it’s failure in the House committee isn’t a good sign.

The Senate proposal would have prevented lawsuits against businesses unless someone can prove they were exposed there and sickened by the coronavirus and that the business was acting recklessly or committed willful misconduct.

Hospitals also would be shielded from lawsuits unless doctors commit “recklessness or willful misconduct,” which is a legal standard that’s more difficult to prove in court than the current liability standard they face.

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The bill also would shield churches and other religious organizations from any lawsuits over exposure to COVID-19 unless the person who got sick can prove the organization committed intentional misconduct.

People hurt by defective masks or other products couldn’t sue unless they prove the manufacturer acted with recklessness or committed willful misconduct that injured them.