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January 7, 2021 10:48am

GLI backs legal liability protections bill in Indiana

GLI voiced support for a key piece of Indiana legislation that would provide a level of legal liability protections for Hoosier employers in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Bill 1, authored by Senator Mark Messmer, aims to shield businesses from civil liability for damages in potential lawsuits related to the pandemic. The threat of such litigation would hinder the ability of businesses to quickly rebound from the pandemic and drive the economic recovery. GLI has strongly advocated for COVID liability protections at the federal level as well as in Kentucky and Indiana.

GLI joined other business organizations – including One Southern Indiana – to voice support for the bill in a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviewed the bill on January 6. Read the full letter below.

To the Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

The undersigned are pleased to support Senate Bill 1 (Civil Immunity Related to COVID-19).
Collectively, we represent thousands of Indiana businesses who employ hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers across the state. As Chambers of Commerce, we have been working as front line responders to employers as they navigated the significant impact this health pandemic has had on businesses – from closures, to laying off employees, to reopening and recovery. We believe that employer liability protections are necessary for employers who have followed health guidelines to feel the protection from the state in order to open and remain open. These protections are imperative for businesses to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even when employers take all of the appropriate precautions to protect their employees from contracting COVID-19, there are always factors out of their control, such as the behavior of their customers and employees outside of the business. Employers who do everything they are supposed to do should not be held liable for events outside of their control.

We do realize that providing Civil Immunity Related to COVID-19 is but one piece to a larger puzzle which will allow businesses to return the workforce back to some sense of normalcy. This type of employer liability protection would allow businesses to reopen confidently prior to having successful vaccination distribution to the general public. While large corporations might be able to withstand the financial impact of lawsuits, a small/locally owned business could easily be bankrupt by the cost of even one lawsuit. This means that they could go out of business and their employees are out of jobs. Employer liability protection is good for both employers AND employees.

Thank you, Senator Messmer for authoring this important piece of legislation, and for
Chairwoman Brown for hearing the legislation so expeditiously. A special thank you to Senators Koch and Zay for authoring and co-authoring. If any member of the committee has questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact any one of us.

Sincerely,
Aspire Johnson County
Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Greater Louisville Inc.
Indy Chamber
Northwest Indiana Forum
One Southern Indiana
OneZone Chamber of Commerce
Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana
South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce
Southwest Indiana Chamber