As part of Ohio’s continued efforts to provide security and relief from the ever-changing landscape surrounding COVID-19, the Ohio Legislature recently passed House Bill 606 on September 2, 2020. The Bill affords civil immunity for businesses and health care entities for actions taken during the Coronavirus pandemic. Ohio Governor DeWine signed this legislation on September 14th, and the Bill will go into effect 90 days from the 14th. As per the Bill’s language, the law will apply retroactively to when Ohio first declared a State of Emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic on March 9, 2020. The Bill will then apply up through September 30, 2021.
The new law will provide civil immunity to any claimed injury, death, or loss to a person or property that can be connected to exposure to or transmission of COVID-19. The law offers immunity to an individual, school, business, religious entity, or governmental entity. The immunity is also extended to healthcare and emergency services. Immunity will not be extended if it can be established that the exposure to, transmission of, or contraction of COVID-19 was through reckless, intentional, willful, and/or wanton conduct. Additionally, the legislation does not create any new legal duties for the purposes of potential tort liability as it pertains to issues of proof of a duty or breach of that duty.
The new law hopes to provide some solace to businesses, employers, and schools that may fear potential liability from a COVID-19 lawsuit as Ohio attempts to reopen its economy and retain some sense of normalcy.
If you have any questions as to how this new law could potentially affect your family or business, please reach out to the attorneys at BHMK. We are prepared and ready to assist you in navigating the chaotic terrain created by the COVID-19 pandemic.