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Utah Lawmakers Vote To Protect Businesses, People From Getting Sued For Possible COVID-19 Exposure

Screenshot of Kirk Cullimore speaking during the Utah Legislature's virtual meeting
Emily Means
/
KUER
Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, presents the civil immunity bill during the Legislature's special session.

The Utah Legislature passed a bill during Thursday’s special session that protects businesses and people from civil lawsuits, if someone thinks they caught COVID-19 from a person or business. 

Under this bill, the owner of the property or business would be protected in a civil case if someone is exposed to coronavirus while on their property and wants to sue them. The bill makes exceptions for things like willful misconduct and reckless harm. 

Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, sponsored the bill. He says though this kind of claim probably wouldn’t be successful in court, it would still hurt places trying to get back on their feet.

“Bringing a claim in and of itself is detrimental to business and an impediment to operating in business,” Cullimore said.

Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, proposed an amendment that would require businesses to notify customers that they can’t take legal action against the business. The amendment failed.

But Democrats and a few Republicans worried the bill would reduce compliance with public health guidelines. 

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, said the state needs to trust establishments will follow the rules as they begin to reopen.

“We are good people, Stratton said. “We will take proper steps. We will be wise.”

Utah’s epidemiologist said the health department will continue to inform lawmakers about best practices to consider in policy making.

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

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