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COVID-19 Liability

COVID-19 Liability


The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented liability exposure issues for California businesses and employers. In particular, for essential businesses who have stepped up to provide services, goods, and facilities during the crisis, there is mounting concern about the threat of frivolous litigation alleging these businesses are responsible for coronavirus exposure.

California has already recognized the need for protection from civil liability during times of crisis under the Emergency Services Act (Cal. Gov’t Code §§8550, et seq.). The act gives state and political subdivisions sweeping immunity for discretionary functions (§8655). To certain private entities, the act gives immunity from civil liability, while preserving the ability for harmed individuals to seek remedies for gross negligence and willful misconduct (§8657.5).

To encourage and support critical response efforts, the state needs to provide assurances of immunity to all industry sectors providing critical services, goods, and facilities. CJAC and a large coalition of business organizations have asked Governor Newsom to take the following actions:

  1. Issue an executive order at the earliest possible time clarifying and expanding the immunity provisions of Government Code section 8657.5 to apply to all private entities and their workers providing critical services, goods, and facilities during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
  2. Advance and support urgency legislation, to be acted upon when the Legislature returns from recess, to address any gaps in this immunity expansion not addressable by executive order.

California businesses are in survival mode, yet they are working in amazing and heroic ways to respond to the crisis. They should not be punished with class actions and private rights of action that attempt to capitalize on this crisis. Our businesses and the economy cannot sustain further damage.


State should protect essential businesses from frivolous and predatory lawsuits

CalMatters - June 9, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an extremely trying situation for essential businesses, which have stepped up in amazing and heroic ways to provide the goods and services that Californians rely on daily.

But as the state eases quarantine restrictions and takes steps to reopen, essential businesses face yet another devastating threat to operations – predatory lawsuits. A wave of coming litigation capitalizing on this pandemic threatens to further burden essential businesses and greatly exacerbate economic recovery in California and across the nation.

Press Release

Civil Justice Association and Industry Leaders Request COVID-19 Emergency Liability Reduction

April 21, 2020

Critical services threatened by litigation amidst supporting efforts

Sacramento, Calif., April 21, 2020 – The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) with a coalition of almost four dozen business organizations representing a broad range of California industry sectors have sent a letter to Governor Newsom requesting immediate action to address a mounting threat of litigation against critical businesses and nonprofits working during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

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