The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) and Attorney Jonathan Pope, who is the organization’s current President-Elect, have helped draft Georgia’s Senate Bill 359, which aims to restart school sporting events by providing legal protections to colleges, universities, and possibly high schools. Under SB 359, schools that attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus cannot be held liable in any lawsuits filed by student-athletes who participate in a school sport or fans who attend a game and later test positive for COVID-19.
A COVID-19 lawsuit would only be considered legally valid if it could be proven that the school acted with gross negligence that allowed the transmission of the virus. However, any school that took even slight precautions, such as encouraging social distancing, mask use, and thorough hand sanitation when possible, would be excused entirely from liability.
Many have expressed concerns that public entities will become easy targets for COVID transmission lawsuits in the coming months and years. The added protections through this bill would block lawsuits before they began, which will not only keep courts clearer to handle other lawsuits but also keep school funds from being drained by a wave of liability claims.
Attorney Pope and the GTLA teamed up with various business groups and professional sports teams from Georgia to work on SB 359. The collective effort helped keep the legalities of the bill in line with the expectations and wants of the average student, athlete, business owner, and resident of Georgia. As the pandemic continues, future bills could be drafted to adjust lockdown requirements and liability laws in other aspects of day-to-day, but, hopefully, this bill will stand and continue to allow student-athletes to continue pursuing their passions.
For more information about the GTLA, you can visit their official website: https://www.gtla.org/. To learn more about Attorney Jonathan Pope of Hasty Pope, LLP, LLP in Canton, please call (770) 741-1951 to be connected with a friendly member of our law firm.