Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Coronavirus Update 9-2-2020: Ohio set to activate COVID-19 liability shield for businesses

Both houses of Ohio's legislature have passed legislation that will grant a liability shield to businesses for claims related to COVID-19 exposure or infection.

The legislation, which Governor DeWine has indicated he will sign into law, would grant immunity from civil actions for damages based in whole or in part that an injury, death, or loss to person or property was caused by the exposure to COVID-19, unless one can prove that the exposure was by reckless conduct, intentional misconduct, or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person or entity sued.

Moreover, a government order, recommendation, or guideline shall neither create nor be construed to create a duty of care, new cause of action, or substantive legal right, and a presumption exists that any such government order, recommendation, or guideline is not admissible as evidence that a duty of care, a new cause of action, or a substantive legal right.

Finally, this legislation would prohibit class action lawsuits related to claims of COVID-19 exposure.

What does this mean in layman's terms? If a business follows Ohio's responsible reopening guidelines, one would be hard pressed to sue that business if one contracts COVID-19, even if one can conclusive establish that the business was the source of the infection (which we know if hard, if not impossible, to do because of the prevalence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus.

* Photo by Tim Mielke on Unsplash