Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, Business Coalition Call for Additional Liability Protections to Help Reopen and Restart the Wisconsin Economy

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) and a coalition of 40 Wisconsin businesses and chambers of commerce are calling for the Legislature to enact civil liability protections to help Wisconsin businesses as the state begins to reopen the economy. The Wall Street Journal recently editorialized calling for quick action, noting plaintiff attorneys are already targeting reopening businesses.

In the Legislature’s first COVID-19 bill (2019 Act 185), WCJC worked with legislators to enact protections for health care workers and to take good first steps in protecting manufacturers, sellers and distributors of medical equipment to fight COVID-19. Now, WCJC is calling for additional protections for those manufacturing, selling and distributing medical equipment, as well as protections for employers seeking to keep their employees and customers safe and for persons rendering aid.

WCJC sent this memo to the Legislature last week outlining details of these civil liability protection measures. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, on behalf of 40 trade associations and chambers of commerce including WCJC and National Federation of Independent Business – Wisconsin, also sent a similar letter to the Legislature. The goal is to enact measures to protect Wisconsin businesses and their employees from being sued, for example, by a plaintiff alleging contracting COVID-19 at the place of business though the plaintiff never actually got sick. WCJC stands ready to work with legislators and the rest of the Wisconsin business community on these important reforms.

The wave of COVID-19 related lawsuits is already starting, as plaintiff attorneys file frivolous lawsuits against hand sanitizer manufacturers, health care providers and hospitals, and other essential businesses. These lawsuits will seriously undermine efforts to restart and rebuild the Wisconsin economy, so it is vitally important that Wisconsin has appropriate liability protections for employers and their workers from the very real threat of frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19.