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Groups Urge Congress to Enact Reasonable COVID-19 Liability Protections for Essential Businesses


PMAA joined scores of other national associations including NACS, SIGMA and NATSO in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee leaders this week urging enactment of legislation to protect essential businesses from COVID-19 claims. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the issue, and it heard from a number of those supporting the effort including NACS Treasurer Kevin Smartt, who is the CEO and president of Kwik Chek Food Stores and member of the Texas Food and Fuel Association. The aim of the legislation is to protect essential businesses from claims by customers and employees who allegedly contracted the disease at the business location or as a result of its operations. 

Fuel marketers and other retailers face claims, like the wrongful death claims already asserted against Walmart, that they failed to comply with CDC guidance and other virus mitigation protocols in operating their businesses. They each face millions of dollars in potential liability because they remained open during the pandemic. They fear that despite their unprecedented efforts to require safe practices, like social distancing, wearing masks, and cleaning and disinfecting their business premises, they would face allegations of not going far enough. 

PMAA and the other supporters of the legislation noted that businesses that remained open to serve their customers under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances should not be punished for their efforts. Many of these businesses are already facing threats to their survival, they could now face even more exposure from expensive litigation. PMAA will continue to support the coalition’s efforts to lobby Congress as the Committee considers the information gathered at the hearing, and it will provide additional updates as developments unfold.

Please click here to urge your lawmakers for liability protection in a future COVID-19 response bill.


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