‘Congress Must Oppose This Dangerous Proposal’: Draft of McConnell Corporate Immunity Plan Sparks Alarm

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Consumer and workers’ rights advocates are warning that new details of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits show just how far the Republican leader is willing to go to ensure corporations are not held accountable for endangering public health and safety.

s proposal,” the National Employment Law Project said in response to a draft (pdf) of McConnell’s plan obtained by Politico and other outlets on Friday.

The draft, authored by McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas.), proposes relieving businesses, schools, churches, and other institutions of legal responsibility for workers, customers, and others who contract Covid-19 except in cases of “gross negligence and intentional misconduct”—a difficult standard to prove in court.

As the Associated Press reported, the Republican plan “offers a broad shield by requiring heightened pleading standards, stiffening burden-of-proof standards, and capping damages on awards. Employers would also be shielded from investigations by federal agencies.”

Additionally, McConnell and Cornyn’s plan would empower companies to move coronavirus-related personal injury and medical liability cases to more business-friendly federal courts. “Defendants are liable,” the draft states, “only if they failed to make reasonable efforts to follow applicable public-health guidelines.”

Robert Weissman, president of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said in a statement Friday that “the Senate’s rabid desire to shield corporations from accountability when they jeopardize the health and wellness of their employees will only result in more people feeling—and being—less safe and less protected from Covid-19.”

McConnell has repeatedly warned of an “epidemic” of lawsuits if businesses aren’t granted sweeping legal protections as they reopen—a line echoed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—but Public Citizen said in an issue brief Thursday that the Kentucky Republican’s warning is baseless.

“While both the Chamber and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argue that immunizing businesses during a pandemic is the only way to stop a flood of litigation, the evidence shows that there is no flood,” said Remington Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights at Public Citizen.

The details of McConnell’s proposal emerged just days before the start of formal negotiations over the next Covid-19 stimulus package.

McConnell has described the corporate liability shield as his “red line” for the negotiations, despite widespread opposition from civil society organizations and small business leaders who say the plan would give big companies a free pass to expose workers and customers to Covid-19.

“Be clear: this is an anti-civil rights proposal,” tweeted the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Congress must put people over profits and reject it.”

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5 Comments on "‘Congress Must Oppose This Dangerous Proposal’: Draft of McConnell Corporate Immunity Plan Sparks Alarm"

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Alfred Higgins
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Alfred Higgins

At present, because the citizen, the employee, the consumer, the student, and the patient have little to no protection under law from the government, the tort system provides their only legal recourse to harm done. Once this pathway to justice is removed by Moscow Mitch, there will be no pathway to justice.

chris whitley
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chris whitley

This is cutting the throats of the average worker. That leaves the,m no protection from these people trying to force people to work in toxic situations. People will die while McConnell and trump sit back laughing. This is the worst thing you could do to the American worker. They can’t get their shit together on the virus so they just sending people out to die because of their incompetence.

Reeby
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Reeby

Republicans do not stand for any individual rights accept to kill (Love those guns, Control Women (disguised as Pro-life), Hurt the environment (Deregulate big business and anti-climate and anti-science stance and policy. Not for the People.

Dick Panico
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Dick Panico
McConnell doesn’t care about his constituents, only about the business’s that keep him and his wife in cash . This guy is a Trump type crook . We must remember his wife has been illegally shifting US GOVERNMENT contracts to her Chinese families . Part of what he’s doing is shielding his Wife’s company’s from any liability connected with those contracts. I think she’s being investigated as we speak! It’s a Trump like thing to do ! They all have their big noses in the (Feds money give away) to business, while they give the working folks pennies. And he’s… Read more »
Surya-Patricia Lane Hood
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Surya-Patricia Lane Hood

Keep up the good fight. Come end of January we will send Moscow Mitch, Corrupt Cornyn and their ilk where they belong; out of power.