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DeWine Signs Law Offering Legal Immunity For COVID-Related Lawsuits

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OHIO CHANNEL SCREENSHOT
Gov. Mike DeWine signs House Bill 606 in a virtual signing ceremony from his home in Cedarville. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was in his Columbus office, and Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) joined from their homes.

As he hinted he would, Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a law that will shield first responders, businesses and schools from COVID-19 related lawsuits. It’s one of the first coronavirus immunity laws in the country.

The law’s sponsors say it will provide immunity for law enforcement, medical professionals and large and small businesses from lawsuits over things like cleanliness guidelines or decisions on medical care, as long as there’s no reckless or intentional conduct.

At the virtual signing ceremony, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said it goes beyond just health care facilities, fire and police, and restaurants and stores.

“This is not just about business; it’s about schools, it’s about not-for-profits, it’s all of us who are trying to do the right things but also need that predictability,"Husted said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland), passed the House overwhelmingly in May and then was approved by a closer vote in the Senate in June.

Many Democrats opposed the bill after the Senate stripped out language that would allow first responders, food workers and corrections employees to qualify for workers' compensation benefits right away. But Republicans have said the BWC is covering most of those cases.

The law expires at the end of the year.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau