Ohio Senate Bill Passes Providing Immunity From COVID-19 Lawsuits

By: Robert L. Solt, IV

On June 3, 2020, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 308. S.B. 308 first addresses health care providers, and also expands the existing immunity from lawsuits for additional actions (not just emergency care) taken by health care providers during the declared state of emergency. Further, S.B. 308 grants immunity from lawsuits to additional health care providers (for example, dental assistants and home health agencies) and provides health care professionals immunity from disciplinary action arising from health care services related to the declared disaster. Similar to H.B. 606, which is still pending in the Ohio Senate, S.B. 308 does not provide immunity for actions that constitute willful or wanton misconduct. Further, S.B. 308 provides a prohibition against certain class action lawsuits if the immunity does not apply to a specific health care provider.

S.B. 308 also provides for civil immunity from lawsuits for service providers. A service provider is any owner, officer, director, employee or agent that provides any activity, including manufacturing, that is part of or outside of a service providers normal court of business conducted between the period of disaster or emergency declared due to COVID-19 and ending on April 1, 2021. This includes lodging, sheltering, groceries, pharmaceutical products, fuel products, other products, retail merchandise, manufacturing, care, religious or other nonprofit services. Additionally, this specifically includes state institutions of higher education, and state universities. Under S.B. 308, a service provider is not liable for damages to any person in a civil action for illness, nor for injury, death, or loss to person or property from the service provider’s services that are in response to, or intended to assist persons to recover from, a disaster or otherwise sustain themselves during the period of the declared disaster and not more than 180 days afterward. Further, a service provider is not liable for injury, death, or loss to person or property resulting from, or related to, the person’s actual or alleged exposure to an illness in the course of, or through that provider’s provision of services. However, the bill does not provide immunity if the service provider’s act or omission is reckless, or intentional conduct or willful or wanton misconduct. Further, S.B. 308 provides a prohibition on certain class action lawsuits against service providers if the immunity does not apply to a specific service provider.

S.B. 308 does not include an amendment to the occupational disease provision of the Workers’ Compensation law.


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