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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill granting businesses civil immunity during pandemic

Mike DeWine
Posted at 12:00 PM, Sep 14, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, joined by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof and Ohio Speaker of the House Robert Cupp, signed House Bill 606 during a videoconference ceremony Monday.

You can watch the conference in the player below.

HB 606 gives employers immunity at the state level from civil lawsuits for "injury death or loss to person or property" when caused by COVID-19, unless the exposure or transmission was caused by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct on the part of the person whom the lawsuit is brought against.

The bill states that lawsuits related to the COVID-19 health emergency are numbering in the thousands, and Ohio employers face uncertainty about what tort liability they face.

"The General Assembly is further aware that businesses and premises owners have not historically been required to keep members of the public from being exposed to airborne viruses, bacteria, and germs. In Ohio, it has been the responsibility of individuals going into public places to avoid exposure to individuals who are sick. The same is true today: those individuals who decide to go out into public places are responsible to take those steps they feel are necessary to avoid exposure to COVID-19, such as social distancing and wearing masks," HB 606 reads.

The bill will apply from March 9, 2020, the date Gov. DeWine issued the state of emergency, until Sept. 30, 2021.

The bill extends protections to health care providers, facilities and emergency services, as well as schools, nonprofit and for-profit entities, governmental entities, churches, colleges and universities.

"Ohio businesses stepped up when asked to help with this pandemic crisis and we are pleased that the Senate and House, along with the governor, have acted to help protect jobs and our economy," said Andrew E. Doehrel, President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.