COVID-19 Safe Harbor Bill Fails to Clear Tennessee Legislature

Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.
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Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.For the past several weeks, the Tennessee Legislature has extensively discussed and debated the Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act. This Act would protect Tennessee businesses, schools, churches, health care providers, and other entities from certain lawsuits related to alleged exposure to COVID-19. The House and Senate each passed their own versions of the bill, and then conferred in an attempt to resolve their differences.  

A key sticking point was whether the Act should be retroactive to March 5, 2020 — the day of the first confirmed positive COVID-19 test in Tennessee. The Senate version was retroactive; the House version was not. The two chambers were unable to clear this hurdle, and the Act unfortunately was four votes short of passage.  

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

This is a key development, as the Act would have insulated many entities from lawsuits for alleged COVID-19 exposure. Although COVID-19 cases will be inherently difficult to prove, without the heightened standards and other procedural requirements of the Act, Tennessee businesses that either stayed open or have reopened could be subject to time-consuming and expensive litigation from individuals claiming to have contracted COVID-19 because of exposure at their facility.  

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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