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UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

On Monday, September 14, as expected, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 606 into law. It will take effect on Sunday, December 13, 2020.

September 9 - The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Importantly, the law explicitly states that public health or other governmental orders related to COVID-19 do not create any new legal duties of care for the purposes of tort liability and cannot be used as evidence of a breach of any duty of care. 

With this new law, the Ohio General Assembly is recognizing the difficulty businesses face in complying with frequently changing public health orders and CDC recommendations. Additionally, the legislature wants to avoid legal precedents that could subject business and premises owners to liability to members of the public for exposure to airborne viruses, bacteria and germs.   

The lawsuit immunity granted by H.B. 606 is broad. It applies to individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, health care providers, health care workers, schools, non-profits, governmental entities, religious entities, trusts and estates. It will be short lived, however. The immunity would only be granted to claims arising from March 9, 2020, the date of the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-01D through September 30, 2021. Governor DeWine is expected to sign the bill, which would then take effect in 90 days.

As mentioned in our June 2, 2020 client alert, H.B. 606 previously created a rebuttable presumption that first responders and healthcare workers were eligible for workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19. Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606 no longer contains this presumption. Therefore, COVID-19 is generally not a compensable workers’ compensation illness in Ohio except in the most exceptional circumstances.

For additional information, please contact Adam D. Fuller, adfuller@bmdllc.com or 330.374.6737, or any member of the L+E or Health Law Team at BMD.

The SEC Amends Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer Definitions

The SEC Amends Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer Definitions

Landlord Alert: CDC Issues Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions

On September 1 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020. With the July 24, 2020 expiration of the prior moratorium established under the CARES Act, the CDC based the new moratorium on the need to protect public health and the likely increase in the spread of COVID-19 if mass evictions take place.

BMD Obtains Supreme Court Victory on Behalf of Sterilite of Ohio, LLC

Columbus, Ohio – On August 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued its opinion in Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC, Slip Op. No. 2020-Ohio-4193. The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision reversed an Ohio Court of Appeals ruling that had reinstated a putative class action against Sterilite brought by a group of current and former employees claiming that Sterilite’s use of “direct observation” urinalysis screening violated their common law right to privacy.

Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 & Reporting Requirement Updates – Deadline to Request Phase 2 Funds is August 28, 2020

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced that certain Medicare, Medicaid (managed care and fee-for-service), CHIP, and other providers would be given another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments. HHS has allocated around $15 billion for Phase 2 distribution. Providers are eligible for these new distributions if they fulfill the following criteria and have not yet received a Provider Fund payment equal to approximately 2% of their revenue from patient care.

Five Things That Owners and Boards Need to Know About Privacy and Cybersecurity Compliance

Five tips for owners and boards about privacy and cybersecurity compliance.