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Law360 (Jun 24, 2021, 5:38 PM ET) – The New Jersey General Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bipartisan law banning lawsuits over COVID-19 spread on properties until the end of the year, while warning signs are posted at entrances to swimming pools, gyms and other common areas.
In a 74-0 vote without any deliberation, the Assembly passed SB 3584, a measure that supporters said would allay fears by homeowners associations and similar organizations that they could be sued after such amenities reopened and faced lawsuits that insurance coverage is not available.
“This is a win for those homeowners associations that have decided to keep public areas closed in 2020 due to liability concerns related to Covid-19,” said MP Brian Bergen, R-Morris, sponsor of the Assembly’s version of the bill. statement after Thursday’s vote.
“My account will allow them to open these zones as they see fit, while protecting them from legal action if any residents or guests become sick or sick,” Bergen said. “Residents of condominiums and townhouses can return to their communal pools and gyms.”
The unfinished immunity under the proposed bill arose as Gov. Phil Murphy largely lifted coronavirus-related restrictions amid improving public health. The crisis has resulted in more than 23,000 deaths and business disruption in the state, but COVID-19 cases have declined as more New Jersey residents received vaccines.
During the outbreak, state legislatures were considering different types of immunity from COVID-19 suits with varying degrees of mobility. Until inviolability of medical institutions and medical workers was approved, bills designed to shield businesses from such liability stalled.
But the proposal for the inviolability of development in the real estate sector has gained momentum over the past month.
The State Senate unanimously approved the earlier version of SB 3584 on June 3. According to this version, “any illness, injury, death or other damages arising from or related to the exposure or transmission of COVID-19 to the premises of the planned development should not give rise to any reason for action “.
This version also stated that the immunity “does not apply to acts or omissions constituting a crime, actual fraud, real malice, gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct.”
June 16th Committee on Development and Community Affairs of the Assembly introduced a bill with amendmentsincluding warning sign statement. These amendments are awaiting further consideration in the Senate.
The committee amendments changed the wording of the bill to state that “the planned construction of real estate is not subject to civil liability for damage caused by or associated with exposure to or transmission of COVID-19” on its premises, as long as the development “in a conspicuous place” posted a warning sign at the entrances to public spaces.
These signs should read: “Any person entering the premises relinquishes all civil liability in respect of planned construction of the property for damages resulting from, or related to, exposure to or transmission of COVID-19 on the premises, excluding actions or omissions. preparation of a crime, actual fraud, malicious intent, gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct, ”the bill says.
The amendments further specified that nothing in the section of the immunity law “should not be construed as limiting or modifying any claim for remedy under [state’s] workers’ compensation law “and that the law” expires on the first day of the calendar year 2022 “.
– Edited by Michael Watanabe.
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