On October 22, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation reducing the liability of businesses and governmental agencies as it relates to COVID-19 exposure. There were three Acts passed that dealt with responding to COVID-19 risks and liabilities, all three of which retroactively apply beginning March 1, 2020.
Public Act 236 of 2020, or rather, “COVID-19 Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act,” protects persons and entities from liability as long as they have complied with all federal, state, and local laws, as well as any regulations, executive orders, or agency orders. The protection is against any “COVID-19” claim, which is “a tort claim . . . for damages, losses, indemnification, contribution, or other relief arising out of, based on, or in any way related to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19.” The Act grants employers the ability to claim immunity from COVID-19 claims where there was an isolated deviation from strict compliance with COVID-19 laws that was unrelated to the plaintiff’s claims. The Act is does not create a private cause of action.
Public Act 237 of 2020 is specific to employees and amends the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act. Much like Public Act 236, this Act grants liability protection to employers for employee exposure to COVID-19 so long as the employer followed all relevant rules and regulations.