Chamber, trial lawyers group each say public is on their side in coronavirus liability fight

The trial lawyers hired Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm, which surveyed more than 1,200 voters online last week. The pollsters told voters that companies want to prevent workers and consumers who contract coronavirus from suing them “even if they could demonstrate that the company engaged in unsafe practices.” Sixty-four percent of respondents said they opposed giving companies such immunity, while 36 percent supported it.

A poll conducted days earlier by the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies for the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform found the opposite among 800 voters surveyed by phone. Asked whether “Congress should protect many businesses and types of companies from lawsuits related to the coronavirus,” 61 percent of voters agreed and 27 percent said no.

Voters were particularly supportive of granting protections to grocery stores and pharmacies, with 84 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed.

Both sides plan to cite the polls as they lobby lawmakers, who are divided over how much protection, if any, to grant companies as part of the next relief bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have said they won’t agree to a bill that doesn’t include liability protections for businesses, while Democrats have expressed skepticism about the idea. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on the issue next week.