Tennessee’s new bill protects against Covid-19 lawsuits

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) –A new bill is headed to the governor’s desk for final approval. 

It’s the Tennessee Recovery & Safe Harbor Act and it aims to provide COVID-19 liability protection to businesses, health care providers, nonprofit organizations and schools. 

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“The last thing I want to do is catch this thing, but what is my recourse? Obviously the recourse for everybody to do is to hire a lawyer and sue. That’s perfectly legitimate but in order to be able to prove that you got it from somebody, you have to be able to prove it was negligence and/or willful misconduct,” says Senator Todd Gardenhire

Groups like The Tennessee Citizen Action and AARP of Tennessee questioned the bill’s legality. 

The original version of the bill was written to be retroactive, meaning businesses could not be sued for anything as early as March – when the pandemic began. 

 “They put the start date on this when the governor called the special session which was August 3rd. That’s what the start date does, so it has some retroactive part to it but it’s not gonna go all the way back to march,” says Gardenhire,

The bill will take effect immediately once it is signed into law by the governor, meaning COVID-19-related lawsuits filed after the bill’s signing will be blocked-unless there is clear and convincing evidence of wrongdoing.

Governor Bill Lee took to social media to celebrate not only the bill’s passing but also the success of the special session. 

As it is currently written, the bill will have a sunset provision, or expiration date,  of July 1st 2022- which can be extended if necessary.