Last week Governor Cooper signed into law House Bill 118, which creates qualified immunity from legal liability over claims arising from the transmission of COVID-19. In sum and substance, this new law grants individuals and businesses qualified immunity from claims that they acted negligently in allowing someone on their premises to be exposed to the virus. It also requires businesses to post on its premises notice of actions that business has taken for the purpose of reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to individuals present on the premises.
With broad application to all individuals and businesses in North Carolina, this new law is designed to limit the proliferation of lawsuits that might be filed against individuals or businesses related to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. It should be noted, however, the immunity does not apply to acts or omissions that amount to (i) gross negligence, (ii) willful or wanton conduct, or (iii) intentional wrongdoing.
Finally, the bill’s immunity shield applies only to claims arising during the period of time from July 2, 2020 through 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116 issued on March 10, 2020.
At Manning Fulton, we stand ready to assist you in that analysis and would be honored to help you through these uncertain times. Should you have any questions about how any of the foregoing issues might impact you or your company, please contact Judson A. Welborn or your Manning Fulton relationship attorney.