Small-business owners may soon breathe a sigh of relief over not getting unfairly sued
PHOENIX, March 31, 2021—Arizona may soon become the latest state to rightly protect its small-business owners against unfair COVID lawsuits, after yesterday’s final passage of Senate Bill 1377.
“This is common-sense protection for Arizona’s mom-and-pop business owners. If signed into law by the Governor, small business owners will breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing they will not be targets for trial lawyers looking for a quick buck,” said Chad Heinrich, Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small-business association. “Our state has been down this road before with shakedown lawsuits, so it’s great to see lawmakers putting a roadblock against it happening with COVID cases.”
Arizona’s legislative action follows on the heels of Florida’s Governor signing similar protections into law on Monday. Even in the best of times, according to Heinrich, a lawsuit alleging anything can threaten to shutter a small business. It has been estimated that a lawsuit can cost as much as $250,000 to defend against. Many small businesses would find it much cheaper to simply close up shop. When Congress failed last year to come up with federal liability protection against unfair COVID lawsuits, states began crafting solutions of their own.
Arizona’s proposed new law states, “If the Governor declares a State of Emergency for a public health pandemic … a person or provider that acts in good faith to protect a customer, student, tenant, volunteer, patient, guest or neighbor or the public from injury … is not liable for damages … unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the person or provider failed to act or acted [with] willful misconduct or gross negligence.”
Keep up with the latest on Arizona small business news at www.nfib.com/arizona or by following NFIB on Twitter @NFIB_AZ
For 78 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since its founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.
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