The timing and substance of the next COVID-19 relief bill may hinge on the issue of liability.
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The liability issue gathered steam with comments made by President Donald Trump before he signed an Executive Order designed to keep meat and poultry plants operating. Trump said the E.O. would “solve any liability problems” those companies are facing.
Issued using the authority of the Defense Production Act, the E.O. “clarifies which safety standards companies must follow — those found in the joint guidance from the CDC and OSHA,” says a USDA spokesperson. “There will be no longer conflicting guidance coming from state and local officials. By clarifying the standard they must meet, companies subject to the order may take the actions called for in the joint CDC/OSHA guidance and thereby reduce their risk of being found legally liable.”
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Jonathan Pomerance, an attorney who focuses on government contract matters at PilieroMazza in Washington, D.C., said “The Defense Production Act does not provide the president or USDA with the authority to preempt state and local workplace health and safety laws. All the DPA does is allow the government to direct plants to prioritize the production of certain items, and allocate the distribution of those items.”
Excerpt taken from the article “Business Liability Shaping Up As Key Issue for Next COVID Relief Bill” by Steve Davies for Agri-Pulse. Please visit this link to view the full article (subscription required).