PCCJR Update — July 8, 2020

Safe Harbor Legislation ** False Claims ** An Unusual Summer

An Unusual Summer Adds to the Unusual Year 

There is no playbook for the times we are living and so it’s no surprise that the summer of 2020 is bringing about unusual times, including in Pennsylvania’s capital city.
Typically, around this time, we would report highlights around the passage of a state budget and the flurry of other bills passed or not passed before the General Assembly adjourns for the summer. Instead, the economic and public health strains caused by COVID-19 resulted in the enactment of a placeholder budget and an uncertain legislative schedule. Leaders in Harrisburg intend to deal with the finer details of the budget, including the thorny problem of balancing a budget in light of a steep decline in revenue, later in the year. In the meantime, reports are the General Assembly will continue to convene as needed throughout the summer.
July and August legislative session days could be an opportunity for the legislature to pass much-needed liability protections related to the pandemic. Read on to see how you can help!

Momentum Builds for COVID-19 Safe Harbor Legislation

A bill to provide safe harbor liability protections for manufacturers of personal protective equipment, health care institutions and providers treating COVID-19 patients, as well as businesses subjected to exposure lawsuits, is circulating in the state Senate. The soon-to-be-introduced bill is gaining momentum and needs additional co-sponsors.
Senator Lisa Baker, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the lead sponsor of the bill. “It’s hard to imagine an environment more target rich for litigation,” she said in her co-sponsorship memo. “It is also hard to have circumstances less suited to the customary cause-and-effect nature of litigation.”
We agree!  PCCJR called for liability protections for COVID-19 heroes starting in the earliest days of the pandemic. Our position is laid out in this op ed published in Broad and Liberty. The prospect of endless lawsuits threatens Pennsylvania’s recovery. If job creators are under the constant worry and threat of being sued by attorneys looking to place blame for COVID-19 exposure, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get Pennsylvania’s economy restarted.
PCCJR has worked closely with Senator Baker’s staff to develop this legislation that will address in one bill the three major concerns needing safe harbor from COVID-19 related liability.
Help us provide this legislation with even more momentum! Call your Senator today and ask them to co-sponsor and support Senator Lisa Baker’s COVID-19 safe harbor bill to help Pennsylvania resolve this urgent liability issue. Senators Patrick J. Stefano, Michele Brooks and Kristin Phillips-Hill have signed on to the bill already. They get it and have also sponsored other liability protection bills to lead us out of the liability crisis surrounding the pandemic.

Holding the Line on False Claims

Late in May, we reported the introduction of H.B. 2352, a state False Claims bill that would incentivize bounty hunting plaintiffs’ and their attorneys to seek recoveries against businesses contracting with the Commonwealth. It’s a lose-lose proposition letting loose lawsuit-happy bounty hunters on a state already fraught with lawsuit abuse.
PCCJR’s strong opposition has thus far prevented the False Claims bill from moving. Our success up to this point does not make us complacent. PCCJR will be on guard during these summer months as the legislature continues to convene. The General Assembly needs to fully understand the impact of passing a state-based False Claims Act and its false promise of enhanced recovery money for Medicaid fraud and non-fraudulent claims.
Stay tuned for any needed action!

In the News

Read the fine print. McConnell supports liability protections! |McConnell opens door for more coronavirus stimulus checks for low-income Americans | NBC.com

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