Gov. Sisolak has signed a new emergency bill to make sure that casinos and hotels, as well as other businesses in Nevada, aren’t shuttered by court order in cases where no evidence against them has been presented.
Sisolak Introduces Legal Protections against Frivolous Lawsuits
Gov. Steve Sisolak keeps finding himself with a lot on his plate. The governor has had to deal with one of the worst health and economic crisis on record and balance between the health of individuals and the economic prosperity of Las Vegas and Nevada.
Repeatedly, Sisolak stressed that the health of people would remain a priority, but without the economy chugging along, people may face destitute that is in itself no better than the COVID-19 pandemic that has paralyzed the country.
Yet, Gov. Sisolak, true to his word, has been looking for ways to establish workplace protections for hotel and casino employees and shield businesses from financial ruin while encouraging and helping them to uphold health directives.
Specifically, Gov. Sisolak signed additional workplace safety protections that shield casino and hotel businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits that are unfounded and level accusations without proof. He acknowledged that Nevada was heavily dependent on the casino industry:
“It’s about acknowledging that Nevada relies heavily on the single industry – the hospitality industry. In order to make it through this historic storm, we must ensure that that industry survives.”
The bill passed on the final day of the legislature’s emergency special session effectively exempts K-12 schools and hospitals from liability. The law further grants legal immunity to the majority of businesses in the state so long as they comply with the issued health standards by local and state and federal authorities and do not exhibit “gross negligence.”
Gov. Sisolak also explained that the enacted changes will prevent people lodging frivolous cases against businesses in the state but they would not constitute an “impregnable shield” intended to protect businesses in the cases where they have been flouting rules. He had this to add:
“This legislation does not provide total immunity to all businesses under all circumstances – far from it,” he said. “Those inevitable bad actors that have ignored and continue to ignore our state’s directives and public health and safety protocols will not be protected from liability for those failures. Those bad actors will continue to face legal consequences.”
Casino Bosses Approve the Legislative Change
According to MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle the law was a good example of how the U.S. Congress could introduce a similar law on a federal level and allow businesses to be protected from legal action so long as they uphold health standards.
Hornbuckle believes that Nevada has scored a “win-win,” protecting both the workers but also the businesses which provide sustenance to the state’s economy. The law took suggestions from the Culinary Union Local 226, who made proposals to honor a deceased casino worker Adolfo Fernandez who reportedly contracted COVID-19 at a Caesars Palace property and passed away in June, after the casino reopened following a three-month shutdown.
The Culinary Union Local 226 had lodged a lawsuit against MGM Resorts but it agreed to retract it after opening dialogue to boost safety and health measures at MGM Resorts. In fact, MGM and Local 226 issued a joint statement earlier this week, explaining that the pair will work on providing staff at casino floors with the necessary precautions so that team members are protected and can continue to provide for their families.
In an official press release to the media, American Gaming Association (AGA) Bill Miller commended the law signed by Gov. Sisolak, allowing for further protection of casino members, but also shielding the lifeline of Nevada from financial ruin:
“The AGA and our members applaud the bipartisan effort by the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sisolak to protect all businesses by limiting exposure to potential COVID-related lawsuits. This allows our members to focus on what’s most needed right now: sustained economic and community recovery,” Miller had to say.