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AB-1313 COVID-19: immunity from civil liability.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/20/2021 04:00 AM
AB1313:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1313


Introduced by Assembly Member Bigelow
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Davies and Fong)

February 19, 2021


An act to add Section 1714.27 to the Civil Code, relating to civil liability, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1313, as introduced, Bigelow. COVID-19: immunity from civil liability.
Existing law generally provides that everyone is responsible, not only for the result of their willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by that person’s want of ordinary care or skill in the management of their property or person, except as specified.
This bill would exempt a business, as defined, from liability 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 business, or due to the actions of that business, if the business has substantially complied with all applicable state and local health laws, regulations, and protocols. The bill would define a business to include a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, association, or other group, including a nonprofit organization, as specified. The bill would not permit this exception to 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. The bill would include related legislative findings.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


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 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.
(f) California cannot afford for businesses to delay reopening because of the fear of frivolous lawsuits.
(g) This is a time to encourage entrepreneurs and support 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 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 1714.27 is added to the Civil Code, immediately following Section 1714.26, to read:

1714.27.
 (a) A 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 business, or due to the actions of that business, whether direct or indirect, if the business has substantially complied with 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) This section shall not affect any employee’s claim for the payment of workers’ compensation benefits.
(d) For purposes of this section, “business” means a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, association, or other group, however organized, and regardless of whether organized to operate at a profit, and includes a nonprofit organization qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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 quickly protect businesses and other organizations, including nonprofit organizations, which continue to make significant contributions to economic development and security, which helps ensure public peace and safety during these unprecedented times caused by the COVID-19 state of emergency, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.