Reynolds signs bill protecting Iowa businesses from COVID-19 liability

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a press conference on March 16, 2020.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a COVID-19 liability bill into law on Thursday, granting businesses, nursing homes and medical facilities immunity from COVID-19-related lawsuits, except under specific circumstances.

Businesses, nursing homes, medical facilities and non-profits like churches and schools are now protected from lawsuits by defendants who are seeking damages related to COVID-19.

The only exceptions are for cases that resulted in hospitalization or death. Companies that knowingly placed people in harm’s way can also be sued.

Democrats in the Iowa Legislature opposed the measures, arguing it fails to protect workers, according to Radio Iowa.

“To the Iowans who get infected … we are going to lessen your rights,” Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, said, according to Radio Iowa.

The Iowa Medical Society, which represents private physicians, argued the bill didn’t go far enough and should have included a hard cap for medical liability lawsuits. 

In a guest column, Brian Privett, president of the Iowa Medical Society, has said medical practices are already inundated with lawsuits, resulting in more financial stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the additional strain of COVID-19 and more high-dollar lawsuits on the way, how many more clinics must close before the legislature takes action?” Privett wrote.

At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also supported a measure shielding business owners from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

The bill also protects companies that produce disinfectant, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment from lawsuits, unless they knowingly gave people defective products.

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.