A recent study by the Ohio Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business found that 70% of entrepreneurs in the state are fearful of lawsuits related to the spread of COVID-19. On September 14, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law House Bill 606, which will seek to alleviate concerns for schools and businesses over their potential liability related to the spread of COVID-19 as they work towards reopening while faced with anxiety over contributing to the spread of virus. The new law will also provide health care workers with immunity from tort actions arising out of the provision of health care related to the pandemic, with very few exceptions.
H.B. 606 will retroactively provide civil immunity to individuals, schools, health care providers, businesses and other entities from lawsuits arising from the exposure, transmission or contraction of COVID-19, or any mutation of the virus, as long as they were not acting recklessly, intentionally, or engaged in willful misconduct.
H.B. 606 will also act as a bar to class action lawsuits based in whole or in part on allegations that a health care provider, business, government entity, or person caused “exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of” COVID-19.
The new law also protects health care providers, including emergency medical professionals, from tort liability for services provided during this pandemic unless they were acting recklessly or displaying intentional misconduct. The new law will take effect in 90 days and will be retroactive to March 9, 2020, when the Governor signed his Executive Order 2020-01D. The law will remain in effect until September 30, 2021.