Liability & COVID-19

Whitfield & Eddy (legal counsel for extension councils) recommends that county offices comply with local ordinances regarding opening/closing and face coverings.

From Kay Osvig, Whitfield & Eddy

I generally encourage clients to comply with ordinances and other local rules until “proven” illegal – unless the client is the entity presenting the legal challenge, a/k/a, filing the lawsuit. I don’t know that a Council would have standing or be in a position to sue a city or county over a mask ordinance, however.

A big part of my job is advising clients about risk. Usually that’s legal risk, which can involve financial or reputational risk (fines, bad PR, etc.). The least risky option would be to comply with the most restrictive order (i.e., local order requiring masks) instead of risking a fine, citation, or other penalty.

My best advice at this time is if a county office has questions about a particular order, or whether the county office should/must comply with a local order, Whifield & Eddy can review the order and advise. 

LMC Insurance & Risk Management recommends county extension districts use the Open for Iowa website for health and safety protocols to follow for county extension programs and activities.

General Liability updates in regards to the communicable disease exclusion can be found on the Open for Iowa website.