Ohio Adopts Protections for Ohio Businesses from Coronavirus - Related Lawsuits

On Monday, September 14, 2020, Ohio Governor Michael DeWine signed into law legislation that provided qualified civil immunity to health care providers and other businesses from lawsuits related to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio House Bill 606 provides protection to any person for civil actions for damage if the cause of action on which it is based, in whole or in party, is caused by the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of SARS-CoV-2 or certain other coronaviruses, or any mutation thereof, unless it is established that the exposure to or the transmission or contraction of, any of those viruses or mutations was by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person against whom the action is brought.  The Act further provides that government orders, recommendations or guidelines shall not create nor be constructed as creating a duty of care that may be enforced in a cause of action or substantive legal right against any person. The statute provides protection broadly for all Ohio businesses as well as governmental entities, religious entities and state institutions of higher education.  The act applies to acts, omissions, conduct decisions or compliance from the date of the Governor’s original Executive Order on COVID-19 dated March 9, 2020 in which the Governor declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 through September 30, 2021.

The Act provides additional protections to health care providers who are either unable to provide an elective procedure in relation to certain governmental orders related to public health emergencies and other decisions related to the provision, withholding or withdrawal of certain health care services

Although a number of states have considered similar measures, Ohio is one of the first to enact legislation on the topic.  Among others, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming have adopted legislation provided some level of immunity to such suits.

KMK Law articles and blog posts are intended to bring attention to developments in the law and are not intended as legal advice for any particular client or any particular situation. The laws/regulations and interpretations thereof are evolving and subject to change. Although we will attempt to update articles/blog posts for material changes, the article/post may not reflect changes in laws/regulations or guidance issued after the date the article/post was published. Please consult with counsel of your choice regarding any specific questions you may have.

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