State’s Attorney issues statement on businesses reopening


DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The Douglas County State’s Attorney said her office will not file charges against businesses or churches that reopen.

State’s Attorney Kate Watson said it is not her intention to file charges when the establishments follow social distancing guidelines. “The decision to reopen a business or church is not without potential, significant risks in terms of civil liability and licensure revocation,” said Watson. “For these reasons, I strongly encourage any business or church contemplating reopening to seek legal counsel.” She continued to say other potential risks include COVID-19 liability claims being denied under insurance policy exclusions if it is determined the establishment is in violation of the governor’s order or health organization guidelines.

Other possible risks include “employee injuries normally covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act might be excluded from the Worker’s Compensation Exclusive Remedy Rule.” The state’s attorney said by law, essential business employers are required to “appropriate PPE’s or face litigation that would require a court to award the injured person or employee three times the amount of actual damages resulting from the violation, and may also result in an award punitive damages being assessed against a business or employer.”

Again, the state’s attorney said any businesses or churches reopening must implement social distancing, face coverings, and other measures set by the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Vigilance by all citizens is necessary to ensure that our community is not put at great risk,” said Watson. “For this same reason, the Douglas County State’s Attorney’s office will enforce reckless conduct violations and seek cease and desist orders, if circumstances indicate such actions are appropriate.”

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