Governor signs critical business COVID lawsuit immunity into law

Gov. Mike DeWine on Sept. 14 signed  House Bill 606 into law during a virtual event. The legislation grants qualified civil immunity to individuals, schools, health care providers, businesses, and other entities from lawsuits arising from exposure, transmission, or contraction of COVID-19 as long as they were not showing reckless, intentional or willful misconduct. 

The law comes after months of OSCPA lobbying efforts and support from other business groups, including the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice. During the signing, DeWine said the bill is consistent with Ohio's goals to keep people safe while restarting the economy. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the legislation would provide "predictability" and "security" to Ohioans. 

"Ohio's small businesses and schools are working hard to reopen, bring back employees, and safely welcome their customers and students," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) in a release. "This legislation helps provide the peace of mind they need to reopen as we work together to rebuild Ohio's economy." 

The immunity applies retroactively from March 9, 2020, the date of the Governor’s state of emergency declaration, through Sept. 30, 2021. The bill will become law after 90 days, which falls on Dec. 13. 

“This bill is so critical for our frontline workers so that moving forward they will not have to worry about lawsuits while helping Ohioans amid the pandemic,” said bill sponsor Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chesterland. “This is much-needed relief for our health care workers, businesses, and even our schools as the academic year recently just began.” 

OSCPA this spring testified in support of both H.B. 606 and companion legislation –  Senate Bill 308 – and many of the issues expressed in that testimony are now addressed by the legislation. 

Hannah News Service contributed to this report

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