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Governor DeWine Signs Bill Tolling Statutes of Limitations During COVID-19 Emergency Period

During his March 27, 2020 press conference on Ohio’s ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19, Governor Mike DeWine officially signed House Bill 197 into law. HB 197, which passed the Ohio House and Senate with unanimous bipartisan support, contains important provisions affecting the legal rights of litigants whose claims may be subject to the statutes of limitations enacted under the Ohio Revised Code.

As applied to civil cases, HB 197 provides that any statute of limitations set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020 “shall be tolled.” This includes, but is not limited to, the specific statutes of limitations for contract and tort claims codified in Revised Code Chapter 2305.

The tolling of Ohio’s statutes of limitations is made retroactive to March 9, 2020 (the date of Governor DeWine’s proclamation of a State of Emergency in Executive Order 2020-01D) and will expire on July 30, 2020 or “on the date the period of emergency ends,” whichever is sooner. As it pertains to civil cases, HB 197 also tolls: “the time within which discovery or any aspect of discovery must be completed,” “the time within which a party must be served,” and “any other criminal, civil, or administrative time limitation or deadline under the Revised Code.” HB 197 also tolls limitations periods and other deadlines applicable to criminal, administrative, and domestic relations cases.

Parties should be aware that tolling is not an enlargement, but an interruption of the statute of limitations that prevents the applicable statute(s) from running (or expiring) during the tolling period. Accordingly, statutes of limitations that expired prior to March 9, 2020 or are set to expire on or after July 30, 2020 remain unaffected and are not extended or altered by HB 197. Parties should consult with experienced legal counsel to determine the impact of HB 197 on claims for which the statute of limitations would otherwise expire during the tolling period as defined by HB 197. In particular, the duration of the emergency period as defined in the Governor’s March 9, 2020 Executive Order will impact the legal rights of parties whose claims are subject to HB 197’s tolling provisions.  

While HB 197 impacts the statutes of limitations and other deadlines set forth in the Ohio Revised Code, it makes no mention of continuing hearings, trials, or individual case management orders. Parties should consult any scheduling orders issued in their own cases, as well as any administrative or general orders issued by the court in which they are appearing, to determine how COVID-19 is impacting deadlines and appearance dates in their case. A link to all administrative and general orders issued by Ohio state courts in response to the pandemic is available through the Ohio Judicial Conference.

For questions, contact BMD Litigation Partner Daniel J. Rudary at 330.374.7477.

Ohio State Dental Board Implements Teledentistry Rules

Ohio law defines “teledentistry” as the delivery of dental services through the use of synchronous, real-time communication and the delivery of services of a dental hygienist or expanded function dental auxiliary pursuant to a dentist’s authorization.[1] The law requires a dentist who desires to provide dental services through teledentistry to apply for a teledentistry permit from the Ohio State Dental Board (“OSDB”).[2] Pursuant to the mandate under Ohio Revised Code 4715.436, the OSDB is implementing the following teledentistry permit rules and requirements (to be set forth under Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4715-23). These regulations, which were subject of a public hearing on February 19, 2020, are effective on May 30, 2020.

HHS Addresses Drug Manufacturer Coupons on Out-of-Pocket Limits

On May 7, 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced their Notice of Benefit Parameters for 2021 in which HHS addressed the application of prescription drug manufacturer copay coupons towards a patient’s out-of-pocket limit. Under this guidance, HHS will permit, but not require, plans and insurers to count direct support offered to enrollees by drug manufacturers (i.e., coupons) for specific prescription drugs toward the annual limits on cost-sharing, regardless of whether a generic equivalent is available.

Important Updates, Deadlines, and Clarifications for the HHS Provider Relief Funds

On May 20, 2020, HHS made important updates and clarifications regarding the General Distribution payments to providers. Between April 10, 2020 and April 24, 2020, HHS distributed an initial $30 billion to providers based on the provider’s 2019 Medicare fee-for-service receipts. These funds were distributed automatically and providers did not need to submit an application in order to receive these funds. The funds were originally touted as a “no strings attached” stimulus payment reserved for healthcare providers. But HHS issued a 10-page Terms and Conditions and required that providers sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions.

Reopening & Social Media: Tips for Businesses

As the country starts to reopen, businesses are under great pressure to keep employees and customers safe. Even if a business follows every reopening requirement, there will inevitably be scrutiny from within and outside the organization. And, in this world of social media, perception tends to become reality. Below are a few practical tips to avoid attracting negative press while restarting your business.

Back to Work: Employer Documents

The return of the workforce brings a renewed set of documentation requirements for employers, particularly those employers with fewer than 500 employees and any companies who received PPP funds. Back in March, employers needed a COVID-19 Leave Form and a Remote Work Policy, but things have changed.