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CLIENT ALERT: HB 159 - Regulatory Indemnity Provisions in Public Works Design Contracts

Representative Louis W. Blessing III (R-Colerain Township) recently introduced HB 159 to regulate the use of indemnity provisions in professional design contracts related to public improvements.  The purpose of the proposed legislation is to prohibit public agencies from requiring design professionals to indemnify them from claims which are not attributable to negligent or other wrongful conduct on the part of the design professional.

Under certain existing state and local contracts, design professionals may be required to defend public entities against third party claims before there is a determination that the design professional has committed an error.  These “broad-form” indemnification requirements may also include a “duty to defend” where the design professional is similarly required to retain an attorney to defend the public agency against third party claims before any legal liability for the claim has been established.  These types of indemnification requirements impose obligations which are typically not covered by professional liability insurance which only applies to claims caused by the engineer or architect’s negligent conduct.

H.B. 159 attempts to bring indemnity obligations in line with principles of fairness and the availability of insurance coverage.  The bill acknowledges that while design professionals are legally responsible for damages caused by their own professional negligence, they should not be required to indemnify and/or defend a public agency for losses that he or she did not cause and which are uninsurable.

BMD will continue to follow this proposed legislation as it moves through the legislative process.

Additionally, you may reach out to your local representative to share your support for or opposition to this bill.

If you have questions or need more information regarding the potential impact of HB 159, please contact BMD's Construction Law Group, or contact:  Robert A. Hager, Justin M. Alaburda or Martin J. Pangrace.

 

Vaccination Considerations for Employers

Today, three Covid-19 vaccines have tested as highly effective (90%+ efficacy) and are advancing in the process for emergency use. This is especially welcome news in Ohio, which has skyrocketing cases and our strategic response has been to turn the entire state into the small town of Bomont with strict curfews and bans on social gatherings.

Did You Receive More than $750,000 in Provider Relief Funds?

The Provider Relief Funds (“PRF”) - authorized under the CARES Act - has been a vital tool for health care providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These funds have allowed providers to stay open and continue to offer care during these pressing times. While helpful, these funds do come with several important obligations. First, fund recipients are required to comply with certain record-keeping requirements as well as comply with certain balance billing prohibitions. See our Client Alert. Second, fund recipients are required to report their intent, use of funds, and other data elements, which helps promote transparency to the federal government. Please see our Client Alert on provider relief fund reporting requirements. Third, and perhaps a new concept for many providers, fund recipients of more than $750,000 must undergo a “single audit” to ensure program compliance and appropriate use of funds.

Important Updates Every Provider Should Know: Information Blocking

In December 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act (“Cures Act”) which: (1) authorized funding for the National Institutes of Health to promote medical research and drug development, (2) implemented provisions aimed at addressing the prevention and treatment of mental illness and substance abuse, and (3) reformed certain standards of the Medicare program and federal tax laws to foster healthcare access and quality improvement.

PPP Update: Loan Necessity Questionnaires

On October 26, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) published a notice in the Federal Register which foreshadowed the release of two new forms seeking information from for-profit and nonprofit organizations that received Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans of $2 million or more. If approved, the SBA would use information from these forms to evaluate and determine whether economic uncertainty made a PPP loan request necessary.

Exposure to COVID-19 Flow Chart

Exposure to COVID-19 Flow Chart