Some North Dakota lawmakers are pushing legislation aimed at shielding businesses and health care facilities from lawsuits over customers’ or employees’ COVID-19 exposure, despite criticism that it may be unconstitutional and could relax protections for workers.
The House Industry, Business and Labor Committee held hearings Wednesday on a pair of bills aimed at limiting coronavirus-related liability lawsuits. One, HB1376, is backed by Republicans and would give immunity to businesses, unless an employer caused damage or an injury due to “willful misconduct or infliction of harm.” The other, HB 1175, is a bipartisan measure that is broader and limits exposure of health care facilities from lawsuits relating to COVID-19 exposure.
The North Dakota Association for Justice, a state organization of attorneys who fight for individual and civil rights, opposes the legislation. Some attorneys testified that the legislation is not needed because existing laws already protect employers.
“Why are we creating laws that aren’t necessary?” Bismarck attorney David Schweigert said. “We don’t need to pass needless laws.”