In an article for Claims Journal, Michael D. Shaloub and Steven S. Vahidi, partners in the firm’s Life Sciences and Product Liability groups, discuss federal and state civil immunity from the hundreds of COVID-19 lawsuits that have already been filed across the country.
In the article, Michael and Steven discuss the significant variation in federal and state civil immunities that may be available to defendants. They caution that knowing if there are legal protections in each jurisdiction is important when considering the steps to protect businesses from a COVID-19 lawsuit. Michael and Steven echoed many state governors in advocating for a unified, federal approach to COVID-19 civil liability immunity.
“On July 21, 2020, 21 governors, including those from many states that already passed some form of civil immunity, forwarded a letter to Capitol Hill seeking new federal protections to preempt the widely inconsistent and ever-changing patchwork of liability-limiting state laws,” Michael and Steven write. “The letter states ‘it is our duty to provide clarity, consistency, and stability to our citizens and their businesses, and the uniformity that federal law provides is critical to America’s industries that work across state lines.’ A uniform approach to civil immunity protections is believed to be necessary to prevent unjustified COVID-19 lawsuits and critical to an economic recovery.”
Michael D. Shalhoub is co-chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Life Sciences group and a nationally recognized authority on product liability defense, medical device litigation, and trial technique. He is a proven trial lawyer who focuses his practice on product liability and medical malpractice defense for the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. In his more than 30 years of experience, he has resolved more than 100 cases at the trial stage and achieved numerous defense verdicts. His experience includes cases involving product liability as well as medical malpractice, business and commercial disputes, insurance coverage, construction accidents, and general liability.
Steven S. Vahidi is a civil litigator and trial attorney with over 15 years of experience handling complex product liability cases, matters involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death, class action litigation, and consumer fraud. He represents clients in state and federal courts across the nation, including in California, New Jersey, and New York. Steven has substantial experience representing national and international companies, including manufacturers of motor vehicles, power tools, pharmaceuticals, clothing, glass products, outdoor power equipment, and industrial machinery. He has also defended clients in complex civil litigation involving premises liability, motor vehicle liability, employment disputes, habitability, and the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). He tried the first successful defense of an employer under a “whistleblower” section of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA).