Sen. Hegeman’s Column for the Week of Feb. 8: Working to Protect People from Frivolous Lawsuits

The Missouri Senate is working to put an end to a very unnecessary side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, and it has nothing to do with people’s health. Unfortunately, I believe, too many lawyers have decided there are ways to make money from someone contracting COVID-19, and it could have a detrimental impact on small business owners who are already hurting from this pandemic.

Lawmakers spent 15 hours honing Senate Bill 51, a measure that has become known as the COVID liability bill. Any legislation that focuses on the legal system or tort reform tends to be a bit wordy or difficult to understand. This is the nature of such a bill. In this case, we want to strike a necessary balance, where it is neither too easy nor too difficult to protect individuals’ rights, while also giving people the flexibility to take action when they know there has been negligence.

It is not only small business owners who stand to lose from COVID-related lawsuits. I believe our churches and schools could also be taken to court, with little or no recourse to take. Everybody has been suffering during this pandemic, whether they have been directly impacted by COVID-19 or not. Adding the uncertainty of getting sued, whether someone is truly at-fault or not, is not something that should be added in this current climate.

Missouri senators gave first-round approval to SB 51 early in the morning of Feb. 3. Another “yes” vote would send this legislation to the Missouri House of Representatives for similar consideration, and then it could go to the governor. An emergency clause in the bill would mean it would become law as soon as it is signed. I do hope this bill makes it, and we can help our friends and neighbors with this meaningful legislation.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.