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DBA Makes Push for COVID Lawsuit Protection
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/01/2020

A Wisconsin farm organization is urging state lawmakers to take up a bill that would protect businesses and others from predatory lawsuits over outbreaks of the coronavirus. Leaders of the Dairy Business Association say the measure would create a liability exemption for individuals as well as entities like businesses and schools if they follow public health orders and take reasonable precautions to protect the public.

DBA Board President Tom Crave said the threat of lawsuits stemming from a COVID-19 outbreak is a concern for Wisconsin's dairy farmers and related businesses. He says like other business sectors in the state, the dairy community has faced significant challenges due to the pandemic.

"Our members have continued operating the very best they can to keep our dairy farms and other facilities safe for our employees while also working to maintain food production and keep milk, cheese and butter available for customers," said Crave. "But despite all the efforts to prevent an outbreak, we know there are no guarantees. These are extraordinary times and sometimes circumstances can be beyond our control."

Specifically, the bill creates a liability exemption relating to COVID-19 for owners, lessees, occupants, or other individuals or entities in control of a premises who invite or permit another person onto the premises. In addition, an owner, lessee, or occupant or other individual or entity in control of the premises is immune from liability for an injury of a person who is exposed to COVID-19 on the property, except where the owner, lessee, or occupant knowingly violates an emergency public health order or engages in reckless, wanton, or intentional misconduct.

The policy is being sponsored by Senator Chris Kapenga of Delafield and Reps. Mark Born from Beaver Dam and Dan Knodl of Germantown.

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