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Opinion: Missouri small business owners need COVID liability protection


NFIB urges lawmakers to act now

Small business owners in Missouri are still facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic as they continue to re-open safely while protecting their customers and employees. This is a much more daunting task until they have some sort of liability protection. Here’s what’s on the mind of Missouri small business owners: They’re concerned that trial lawyers will exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for financial gain. In a recent Missouri NFIB survey, 98 percent of our small business owners asked for protection from COVID-19 related lawsuits.

Here’s the truth: Even if Missouri small business owners comply with federal, state, and local requirements for social distancing and wearing face coverings, they may still be hit with unmerited lawsuits by ruthless lawyers. Our small business owners are trying to bring back family-supporting jobs and serve their customers. During these unprecedented times, Missouri small business owners should not have to worry about the threat of potentially bankrupting litigation.

Even one lawsuit can wipe out a small business. The cost of putting up a legal defense is more than most mom and pop shops can afford in normal times, let alone during an economic crisis. Certain trial lawyers know this and are still looking for a quick buck. Even if a small business owner wins a lawsuit, they really lose because of the cost of litigation.

States across the country have already enacted important litigation reforms. So far, 16 states, both red and blue, have passed these important protections for small business owners. Hopefully, Missouri lawmakers will act quickly and take this important step to help business owners. It’s an effort to make sure or mom and pop shops have the confidence to fully re-open again.

Our Missouri small business owners are asking lawmakers to come together in Jefferson City and pass this important legislation. Our small business owners and job creators need peace of mind as they get back to work and get back to doing what they do best: keeping Missouri’s economy running. During this economic recovery, our legislators need to protect small businesses from unjustified lawsuits. After that happens, our small business owners will help lead the way to protecting and expanding the 1.2 million people in Missouri they continue to support each day.