Gov. Mike Parson headshot
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Senior living and other long-term care and healthcare providers in Missouri have new liability protections related to COVID-19 civil lawsuits now that Gov. Mike Parson (R) has signed SB 51 into law.

Other types of businesses and religious organizations also are protected by the legislation, which the governor signed Wednesday. It will become effective Aug. 28, and provisions will expire in four years.

“When COVID-19 first struck Missouri, healthcare providers, manufacturers, businesses, churches, schools and other entities quickly altered their operations to protect public health and accommodate the needs of Missourians, and they should not be penalized for their efforts,” Parson said in a statement. “SB 51 will protect those who helped protect us during some of the hardest days of the pandemic, and I thank Senator [Tony] Luetkemeyer, Senator [Bill] White and Representative [John] Wiemann for getting this legislation passed to prevent these unnecessary and frivolous lawsuits.”

The new law limits liability for COVID-19 exposure claims unless the defendant “engaged in reckless or willful misconduct that caused an actual exposure and resulted in personal injury.” Plaintiffs now have two years after an “actual, alleged, feared, or potential exposure to COVID-19” to file a lawsuit.

At least 28 states had passed laws to shield businesses from COVID-related lawsuits as of mid-May, according to JP Supra.