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Mississippi Passes Bill to Shield Businesses from COVID-19 Lawsuits

August 04, 2020

Mississippi’s new law offers immunity from some COVID-19 litigation. The Mississippi Back-to-Business Liability Assurance and Health Care Emergency Response Liability Protection Act is written broadly to protect entities from lawsuits based on COVID-19 exposure. It was applied retroactively starting March 14.

Who does the act protect?

It protects businesses, health care providers, religious and charitable organizations and government entities. This protection extends to owners and lessees who invite people on their premises.

How does the act protect them?

First, businesses and other entities who attempt in good faith to follow public health guidance are protected against civil suits for injuries or death caused by actual or alleged COVID-19 exposure during or through the provision of services.

Second, health care facilities and professionals cannot be sued for injury or death caused by acts or omissions while providing health care services related to a declared COVID-19 state of emergency. The immunity lasts for one year after the end of the state of emergency. Immunity extends to acts unrelated to the state of emergency that support the state’s emergency response, such as:

  • Delaying or cancelling nonurgent or elective procedures
  • Diagnosing or treating patients outside the normal scope of the health care professional’s license or practice
  • Using equipment or supplies outside of their normal use
  • Testing or treating patients outside of the premises of standard health care facilities
  • Acts taken due to a lack of staffing, facilities, equipment or supplies due to COVID-19

Third, people and entities who design, make, label, sell, supply or donate personal protective equipment or disinfecting or cleaning supplies outside of the normal course of business cannot be sued for actual or alleged COVID-19 exposure caused by the products.

Are there limits to this protection?

To defeat immunity, a plaintiff must use clear and convincing evidence to show the person or entity acted with actual malice or willful, intentional misconduct. The statute of limitations for suits under this act, except those that fall under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, is two years.   

Please contact Mallory K. Bland or any other member of Phelps’ Labor and Employment team if you have questions or need compliance advice and guidance. For more information related to COVID-19, see Phelps’ COVID-19: Client Resource Portal.