Professional sports leagues have banded together to send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell amid an ongoing battle over the latest proposed stimulus package. The players associations specifically responded to the "legal safe harbor" for businesses, schools, health care providers and nonprofits that don't demonstrate gross negligence. Under the proposal, defendants would move suits to federal courts instead of keeping them in the local states.
"We question whether any such type of special immunity is warranted at all, as there has been no showing that state laws are inadequate," the players associations stated in the letter, obtained by CNN. "There is still much that is unknown about this disease, how it spreads, and the long-term consequences of exposure. It makes little sense during these uncertain times to both ask employees to return to work and, at the same time, accept all the risk for doing so."
According to CNN, McConnell has called the liability protections his "red line" and has said that they must be in any new emergency relief proposal. "No bill will pass the Senate without liability protection for everyone related to the coronavirus," McConnell said last month. "Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic that we already have related to the coronavirus."
The players' letter continued and said that the language would "federalize all COVID-19 work claims and provide employers with an immunity that is so broad that not even egregious behavior would be actionable." The players also stated that there are no perfect solutions and that they recognize the importance of returning to work, whether it is in factories, offices, arenas or stadiums. "We do not believe, however, that the risk of doing so should be borne exclusively by employees," the players said.
The majority of sports are returning to action amid the coronavirus pandemic and are facing difficulties. MLB teams have several positive tests in recent days, including 21 on the Miami Marlins and several on the St. Louis Cardinals, creating uncertainty about the season. The NBA players have remained healthy in the Orlando bubble, but they are enclosed in a smaller space and cannot leave.
The NFL players returned to their respective facilities in recent days for the start of training camp. However, many stars have opted out due to health concerns for themselves and their loved ones. This includes Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams, several members of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.