December 1, 2020, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) released a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memorandum summarizing a legislative proposal as a next step in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contained in this proposal is creation of immunity from civil liability for claims related to COVID-19 for a person who complies with then-applicable federal and state statutes related to COVID-19. Though actual legislative language has not been released, the proposal looks promising and the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council looks forward to working with Speaker Vos, other legislative leaders, and Governor Evers to enact needed protections.
Speaker Vos’s proposal appears to be building off of legislation recently circulated by Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), and Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) to shield Wisconsin businesses, schools, universities, and other entities from the threat of lawsuits alleging liability for COVID-19 exposures. Such protections would only apply to those who take adequate precautions to keep their premises safe.
This fall, a broad coalition of over 60 groups, including the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses – Wisconsin, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Builders Association, Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Midwest Food
Products Association, local chambers and Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin sent a memo urging legislators to co-sponsor and act on Kapenga/Born/Knodl bill.