Today's Law As Amended


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AB-1035 COVID-19 emergency: small businesses: immunity from civil liability.(2019-2020)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California’s economic activity has plummeted in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
(b) The depth and speed of the decline rivals that of the Great Depression.
(c) It is therefore imperative that we act thoughtfully and courageously to recover from this devastating toll by improving business confidence to operate.
(d) Increased confidence translates to business investment, which, in turn, will help limit the economic damage caused during the crisis.
(e) As small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the financial engine that will allow the state to recover post-COVID-19, they need liability protection to continue serving the public and providing necessary jobs. California is home to 4,000,000 small businesses, according to a 2019 United States Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy report, and each one contributes significantly to our economic strength and employment.
(f) California cannot afford for small businesses to delay reopening because of the fear of frivolous lawsuits.
(g) This is a time to encourage entrepreneurs and support small, struggling enterprises.
(h) California has recognized the need for protection from civil liability during times of crisis with the California Emergency Services Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Sec. 8550 et. seq.) of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code), while also allowing harmed individuals to seek redress for actions that rise to the level of gross negligence and willful misconduct.
(i) It is the intent of the Legislature, through this act, to protect small businesses, which continue to make significant contributions to economic development during these unprecedented times caused by the COVID-19 state of emergency.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1714.28 is added to the Civil Code, immediately following Section 1714.26, to read:

1714.28.
 (a) A small business shall not be liable for an injury or illness to a person due to coronavirus (COVID-19) based on a claim that the person contracted COVID-19 while at that small business, or due to the actions of that small business, if the small business has implemented and abided by all applicable state and local health laws, regulations, and protocols.
(b) Subdivision (a) does not apply if the injury or illness resulted from a grossly negligent act or omission, willful or wanton misconduct, or unlawful discrimination by the business or an employee of the business.
(c) Subdivision (a) shall apply only during the timeframe in which the declared state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic is in effect.
(d) For purposes of this section, “small business” means a business with 25 or fewer employees.
(e) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed.
SEC. 3.
 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to protect small businesses, which continue to make significant contributions to economic development during these unprecedented times caused by the COVID-19 state of emergency, as soon as possible, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.