Tort Immunity in the Pandemic

Volume 96

Betsy J. Grey & Samantha Orwoll

The Covid-19 pandemic set off a public health emergency that quickly brought doctors and other health care providers to the front line, while shuttering businesses throughout the United States. In response to the emergency, the federal and state governments rapidly created broad protections from tort liability for health care providers. To encourage businesses to reopen, some states have also provided liability protection for businesses from personal injury suits brought by patrons and employees. Congress is considering similar protections for businesses as it contemplates further aid packages. Some industries, like nursing homes and universities, are lobbying for specific immunity. This Essay overviews some of these liability shields, examines their relative necessity and value, and anticipates some of the issues that will inevitably arise as the provisions are implemented.

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