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Wed, April 21

Gov. Ducey signs COVID-19 liability shield

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill giving businesses immunity from lawsuits over COVID-19. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill giving businesses immunity from lawsuits over COVID-19. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed legislation giving businesses, nursing homes and others a broad shield from lawsuits related to COVID-19, making Arizona the latest state to limit liability after the pandemic.

Republican lawmakers approved the legislation in party-line votes in the House and Senate last week, saying businesses struggled during the pandemic and shouldn’t have to worry about frivolous lawsuits.

The measure was opposed by consumer advocates, who say it will reward bad actors who flouted health guidance and endangered their workers or the public. They say there’s been no deluge of COVID-19 lawsuits.

Business and medical groups have pushed hard for a liability shield since the start of the pandemic. The Arizona bill is one of dozens introduced across the country and in Congress.

Ducey called for the measure in his State of the State address in January. The bill raises the bar for winning a pandemic-related lawsuits against businesses, health care providers, nursing homes, nonprofits, governments, churches and schools. Instead of proving negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, plaintiffs would have to prove “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” by clear and convincing evidence.

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