MPA, NATO Ask Congress for Temporary Liability Relief as Businesses Reopen

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The letter, sent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and signed by over 200 trade and business groups, calls for Congress "to quickly enact temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Motion Picture Association and the National Association of Theatre Owners signaled their support for temporary liability protection as businesses reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic in a letter to Congress on Wednesday.

The letter, sent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and signed by over 200 trade and business groups, called for Congress to "to quickly enact temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic." The letter arrives one week after the Chamber of Commerce sent a similar letter co-signed by over 50 state and local chambers.

As businesses reopen, the letter explains, businesses "are concerned that, despite doing their best to follow applicable guidelines, they will be forced to defend against an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits." That fear, the letter argues, is "a deterrent to reopening" at a time when litigation could potentially devastate businesses already hurting amid the pandemic and its ensuing economic effect. While Congress has passed liability protections for volunteer healthcare providers and some PPE manufacturers, "much more must be done."

The signatories call for temporary liability protections for four groups including  businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions following best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19; essential healthcare workers and resources; businesses that are helping to produce, distribute and use medical devices, PPE, vaccines and therapeutics responding to the pandemic; and "public companies targeted by unfair and opportunistic COVID-19-related securities lawsuits."

In addition to the MPA and NATO, signatories include the NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Airlines for America, American Bankers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Realtors, the National Grocers Association, the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Travel Association.

While specifying that relief should be provided to businesses targeted by "truly bad actors," the note concludes by saying, "Now is the time for Congress to take strong action to stop a growing wave of lawsuits from getting in the way of what we all want and need: healthy citizens and a strong economy."

Congress is currently drafting a "Phase Four" relief package as a result of the coronavirus after the House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion bill on May 15. The bill, as it stands, provides another $1,200 to U.S. citizens, offers support for state and local governments, the Postal Service, renters and homeowners, those who are unemployed, and more.