Conservatives ask Congress to protect industries from coronavirus lawsuits

Conservatives ask Congress to protect industries from coronavirus lawsuits
© Getty Images

More than 20 conservative groups have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power MORE (R-Ky.) and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit MORE (D-Calif.) asking Congress to take measures to protect companies from frivolous coronavirus lawsuits.

The letter, obtained by The Hill, urges Congress to enforce “stronger liability protections” for industries that are “currently on the frontlines of the nation’s coronavirus response and relief efforts” to “create shields from trial lawyers’ frivolous, costly, and job-killing litigation schemes.”

“While the rest of America has come together to fight this pandemic, some trial lawyers have instead plotted to line their pockets with COVID-19 related lawsuits,” the letter states. “Their greed is hurting America in this time of crisis, and lawmakers must put their exploitation of this public health crisis into check.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The letter is signed by a litany of high-profile conservative advocacy groups in Washington, including Americans for Prosperity, the political arm for the Koch network, the Hispanic Leadership Fund, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Tax Reform, among many others.

Some pro-business groups have warned that the coronavirus pandemic could provoke an avalanche of litigation against companies and industries that are reacting on the fly to new government and consumer demands around the pandemic.

They’re warning that trial lawyers see an opportunity to bring claims against hospitals, nursing homes, manufacturing plants and grocery stores that could become a financial drain on companies that are already straining to keep up with new demands and public policy around the coronavirus outbreak.

Questions around whether manufacturers would be waived of liability for producing face masks that are cleared for construction use, but have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, was a source of debate before Congress decided to include a provision in the stimulus package saying that the mask-makers could not be sued if users contracted the virus.

The conservative groups want to see those protections extended to other industries as well, warning that an outbreak of “predatory, self-serving” lawsuits will “hobble our nation’s economic recovery.”

“Costs will significantly rise on the American people in the form of higher healthcare bills, reduced competition and access to treatment and care, and increased prices on the goods and services that they need to weather this crisis,” the letter states.

“Vital industries that support our economy could suffer catastrophic bankruptcies. Worst of all, much of the innovation and capital needed to find cures, both to this disease and the economic devastation posed by it, will face significant delays as well, exacerbating the feelings of hopelessness and despair" felt throughout the country.