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New Law Grants Immunity in Most Situations to Businesses and Schools from COVID-19-related Lawsuits

By Kaleigh Talaganis

September 17, 2020

Ohio has enacted legislation that grants protection to Ohio businesses and entities from liability in most situations where it is alleged that their action or inaction exposed someone to COVID-19. The law grants immunity to businesses from civil lawsuits for injury, death, or loss related to exposure to, or the transmission or contraction, of COVID-19 unless their conduct was reckless or intentional. This immunity is granted from the date of the Governor’s state of emergency order on March 9, 2020, through September 30, 2021.

Specifically, the law limits legal exposure to Ohio businesses, which would not be liable to customers, employees, or others for actions or omissions resulting in the exposure to, or transmission or contraction of, COVID-19 unless it is established that the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, COVID-19 was by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct or willful or wanton misconduct. The bill extends protections to all Ohio businesses and entities, including schools, nonprofit and for-profit entities of any size, governmental entities, churches, colleges, and universities. In addition to this general immunity coverage, the law also provides Ohio’s health care providers with protection against liability or professional disciplinary actions arising from care delivered in response to COVID-19, unless they acted with reckless disregard for the consequences of their actions or engaged in intentional, willful or wanton misconduct.

The law clarifies that any public health orders issued by the executive branch or federal agencies do not create new legal duties or standards of care under the umbrella of tort liability. In addition, the law prohibits class action lawsuits.

The full legislation can be found here.

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