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Missouri governor signs bill protecting business, health care, religious groups from COVID lawsuits

Republican Gov. Mike Parson said state officials are now looked into COVID-related liabilities associated with nursing, veterans homes.

Published: July 7, 2021 6:31pm

Updated: July 8, 2021 5:58pm

Missouri GOP Gov. Mike Parson has signed legislation that will protect businesses, health care providers and religious organizations from COVID-related lawsuits.

"This is what working together is all about," Parson said Wednesday at Koller-Craft Plastic Products, which in makes face shields used by medical workers and others.

"No one should be punished by trying to save the lives of other people," he said. "That’s why COVID liability is so important, so people cannot come in here and sue a business like this."

Al Koller, president of Koller Enterprises and chairman of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said his company was able to use its resources to produce thousands of face shields at the start of the pandemic when personal protective equipment was in short supply.

Koller's relationship with the Missouri chamber helped provide a distribution channel to rural areas of the state.

"This helped us get the shields to health care workers and first responders everywhere when there were concerns of the supplies going to the cities," Koller said. "And how do you price something like this? It was easier to donate and we just sent them out."

Several organizations lobbied against the legislation, including the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, the American Association of Retired Persons of Missouri, the AFL-CIO, and VOYCE, a long-term care ombudsman program.

"The bill will block Missourians’ access to justice by taking away their right to hold wrongdoers accountable in cases that aren’t strictly related to COVID because the language is written so broadly," MATA wrote in opposition to the bill.

During final debates on the measure before passed it passed in the state legislature, lawmakers raised concerns about not being able to hold nursing homes accountable for neglect during the pandemic.

Parson said facilities caring for the elderly or vulnerable will continue to be held accountable.

"We looked at nursing homes and veterans home, and we don’t want to give anybody a free pass if they’re doing something wrong," he said. "This bill doesn’t do that."

The law will expire in 2025.

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