COVID Liability Protection Passes South Carolina Senate

Jobs & Economy
February 25, 2021

Oran P. Smith, Ph.D

Senior Fellow

On February 25, 2021, the South Carolina Senate passed a bill to protect SC business from predatory COVID-related lawsuits.

Just last month, Governor McMaster delivered his State of the State address, outlining South Carolina’s 2021 policy priorities. In that speech, the Governor touted 7 of the 10 recommendations in Palmetto Promise’s 2021 Freedom Agenda, a common-sense, conservative plan for South Carolina’s future.

Out of the many policy recommendations we advocated for in our Palmetto Playbookthere have already been 89 bills introduced based on those recommendations – and more on the way! Protecting our businesses from COVID lawsuits is one of those ideas that lawmakers are now turning into action.

Since we first wrote about the absurd ambulance-chasing going on with COVID lawsuits here and here, Palmetto Promise has been working to raise awareness of the need for protection for innocent businesses during the pandemic.

The very short legislative session last fall yielded little progress, but in recent days we have seen a lot of movement. Rep. Tommy Pope’s bill (H.3698) received a productive subcommittee hearing, and Senator Shane Massey’s bill (S.147) received third reading, passing the Senate.

The lawyers in both bodies have already had a field day arguing over such riveting issues as clear/convincing vs. preponderance, substantial vs, reasonable, and safe harbor vs. immunity.  But given the urgency, we are not complaining about the details…yet.

For anyone unsure about the need for Safe Harbor legislation for businesses, consider this: our competitors for attracting economic development and jobs (NC, GA, TN) have all already passed bills to protect their employers and job-creators. In fact, so have the District of Columbia and New York! DC and New York. That’s quite an incentive to get the job done here.

We are excited for this victory for business and look forward to the South Carolina House following the Senate’s lead and getting this across the finish line.