Thomas R. Fazio, Partner, Blodnick Fazio & Clark, says New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo should afford all businesses in the state the same protections that hospitals and doctors received against frivolous lawsuits during the coronavirus pandemic. He also says there are federal and state lawsuits being filed elsewhere and legal action can destroy small businesses that have already seen a loss of income during the lockdown.
In March, Governor Cuomo enacted an executive order that protected hospitals and doctors from lawsuits as they continue to treat patients with the coronavirus. As part of the order, plaintiffs must prove incidences of either gross negligence or an egregious deviation from the standard of care. Now, 19 business groups have signed a letter with the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York asking the governor to protect them from any legal action that they may face as a result of the pandemic.
Some of the groups include the Real Estate Board of New York, the New York City Hospitality Alliance and the Partnership for New York City. Of these 19 organizations, five of them are part of the governor’s New York Forward Advisory Board, which provides guidance on reopening the state.
“I am urging the governor to protect the companies in our state during this time,” Mr. Fazio says. “Already, they are seeing a flood of lawsuits filed by their employees over poor working conditions. This lockdown has resulted in many businesses closing their doors; those that remain open are struggling to do so. Frivolous legal action might result in a complete shutdown of every shop, restaurant and corporation in New York State.”
Mr. Fazio says companies can implement preventive measures in the workplace to avoid facing litigation. “Some commonsense steps businesses can take include insisting that employees, vendors and customers follow social distancing guidelines, wear personal protective equipment and clean the premises as often and as thoroughly as possible,” he says. “If you believe you are facing a lawsuit in the future, contact a commercial litigation attorney as soon as possible to start compiling your defense.”