Governor Kim Reynolds has signed the bill into law that gives businesses and health care providers new liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits. Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, said it sends an important message.
“If you did your best and took substantial steps to comply with ever-changing government guidelines, then you don’t have to worry about the threat of litigation clouding up your skies,” Whiting said during Senate debate.
Republicans in the legislature supported the bill. Democrats opposed it. Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines, said it will benefit businesses that failed to adequately protect their workers.
“To the Iowans who get infected…we are going to lessen your rights,” Boulton said.
Republicans named the legislation the “COVID-19 Response and Back-to-business Limited Liability Act.” People filing civil lawsuits will have to prove a business, church, or other organization was malicious or showed “reckless disregard” to the risk of COVID-19. It means most businesses, including nursing homes, cannot be sued for damages in civil court for COVID-19 deaths.
The new law is written to retroactively take effect January 1st of this year. It also provides liability protection to businesses and individuals who made personal protective equipment like masks and face shields during the pandemic.