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Tom Briese

Sen. Tom Briese

District 41

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Yesterday, I introduced a bill to guard against meritless lawsuits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic that could set schools, businesses, nonprofits and government back in economic recovery. 

As many segments of society struggle to deal with and rebound from the impact of the pandemic, they face the threat of needless lawsuits related to COVID. To help facilitate our recovery from the pandemic, it’s incumbent on us to provide some level of protection against such lawsuits while ensuring the safety of our citizens and holding bad actors accountable. This legislation will provide that reasonable level of assurance to our business, education, and healthcare communities.

My staff and I spent a great deal of time working with senators from both sides of the aisle, as well as a broad coalition of stakeholders. I have spent several months since the end of the last session working with small businesses, schools, and healthcare providers to craft this bill, in addition to consulting other senators. 

I’m proud of the work that was done behind the scenes on this to make sure that these protections will be broad and serve the greatest number of Nebraskans in areas that have, in many ways, been the worst-hit by this pandemic.

I would note the hard work of Senator Matt Williams, District 36, who co-sponsored the legislation. Senator Williams is someone who is easy to work with, and I would say that’s pretty much a consensus in the body. Having his help and hard work in this process was really instrumental in getting it put together.

The bill, LB 139, would provide limited, temporary liability protection for those who comply with safety standards and regulations related to COVID-19. To ensure the safety of the public and provide a safe harbor against unnecessary lawsuits, the legislation would:

  • Encourage compliance with federal, state and local safety standards and regulations;
  • Preserve the right to file claims of gross negligence and willful misconduct up to two years after an injury or illness incident;
  • Continue to allow for civil damages in claims resulting from a COVID-19 exposure involving a serious injury or death;
  • Reinforce protection for healthcare workers during the pandemic
  • Sunset when the legal risk due to COVID-19 is lessened after a reasonable period of recovery.

From the start, we knew it was important to hold irresponsible actors accountable, so it was important for us to include that language on gross negligence and willful misconduct. It also protects healthcare providers from meritless lawsuits when they were acting in accordance with certain guidelines recommended by public health officials,” Briese said. “Nobody has done more for our communities and our state than healthcare providers. The last thing our hometown heroes need is to worry about being sued for cancelling an elective procedure or an accidental exposure when they were doing the right thing all along.

Sen. Tom Briese

District 41
Room 2108
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2631
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