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Long Island Small Businesses Use Waivers To Protect Themselves From COVID-19 Related Lawsuits

MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There are new concerns for business owners as they begin to rebuild after the coronavirus pandemic, so some are asking patrons to sign liability waivers.

As small businesses slowly reopen, many owners are doing all they can to limit exposure to the coronavirus and to potential lawsuits.

"We do have a waiver that our guests sign before they come up," said Jamie Mazzei from Nubest Salon in an interview with CBS2's Jennifer McLogan. "We've had no resistance with that at all."

Nubest Salon client Heather O'Shea said with extreme sanitizing and safety precautions taken, she readily signed an agreement not to sue should infection occur.

"If it was a different situation where they weren't being as careful in following those CDC guidelines, there is no way that I would sign a waiver," said O'Shea. "I'm doing it because I have faith in the establishment."


These waivers appeared at President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, inside the New York Stock Exchange, and at fitness centers and dentist offices.

Waivers that protect against liability from a COVID-19 infection have yet to be tested in court.

In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld waivers that limit rather than elevate the right to sue.

"I don't think a lawsuit like this is really going to be very successful, especially on the negligence standard because the science seems to support the fact that you can contract the virus anywhere," said Richard Jaffe, a New Hyde Park malpractice and personal injury attorney.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

And that is the argument from a consortium of Long Island business owners appealing to Congressional leaders to support a federal liability shield.

"It will protect businesses who may be susceptible to frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits," said Kyle Strober from the Association For A Better Long Island.

Small businesses say they are following CDC guidelines and are hanging on by a thread. A lawsuit would put them under.

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