February 24, 2021

Volume XI, Number 55

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Indiana Passes COVID-19 Civil Tort Immunity Bill

This past week, the Indiana General Assembly passed, and Governor Eric Holcomb signed, Senate Bill 1 to provide civil tort immunity from claims arising from COVID-19. This immunity includes claims related to premises liability and product liability, except for acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Significantly, the bill broadly defines “COVID-19 protective product” and provides civil tort immunity, consistent with the aforementioned exceptions, for harm that results from the design, manufacture, labeling, sale, distribution or donation of a COVID-19 protective product. Among other things, “COVID-19 protective product” is defined to include personal protective equipment; medical devices, medications, and equipment used to treat COVID-19, including products used or modified for an unapproved use to treat COVID-19 or prevent its spread; and tests, as approved by FDA , to diagnose or determine immunity or exposure to COVID-19. The bill also prohibits class action suits based on tort damages for harm that results from the design, manufacture, labeling, sale, distribution or donation of a COVID-19 protective product. The General Assembly set the bill’s provisions to become effective immediately, rather than wait until the traditional July 1 effective date for new legislation.

There is a companion bill, House Bill 1002, still working its way through the General Assembly. Legislators will use this bill to address additional liability issues they feel weren’t addressed in Senate Bill 1. As currently drafted, House Bill 1002 would provide more expansive immunity from other claims arising from COVID-19, such as:

  • Immunity for health care providers from certain professional discipline matters for acts or omissions arising from a disaster emergency.

  • Immunity from civil liability to certain health care providers for certain acts or omissions related to providing health care services during a state disaster emergency.

  • Immunity to government entities and employees for losses resulting from an act or omission arising from COVID-19.

  • Immunity for certain persons against losses, damages, injuries or deaths arising from COVID-19.

It is yet to be seen whether House Bill 1002 will also pass out of the General Assembly, or if Governor Holcomb will sign it. Legislators will continue work on House Bill 1002 during the second half of the legislative session beginning in March.

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© 2020 Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 50
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About this Author

Jessica Benson Cox Product Liability Litigation Attorney Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath Indianapolis, IN
Partner

Jessica Cox defends pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers and other industry leaders involved in product liability litigation.

Product & Malpractice Litigator

Jessica is experienced with overseeing discovery and medical/expert issues in complex product liability cases, and she has served as national and local counsel in matters involving local anesthetics, anti-psychotic medications, cosmetics, cardiovascular and orthopedic medical devices.

She has represented physician groups and hospitals in medical malpractice actions brought before the Indiana...

317-237-1234
Nicholas B. Alford Litigation Attorney Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath Indianapolis, IN
Associate

Nick Alford counsels clients in complex litigation, including products liability, mass torts, class actions and general business disputes.

Nick contributes to litigation matters by:

  • Preparing for and taking fact witness depositions
  • Preparing for expert depositions
  • Negotiating settlements
  • Drafting pretrial motions
  • Preparing for oral arguments
  • Serving on several MDL trial teams

Nick represents companies such as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of minimally invasive devices for diagnostic and...

317-237-1110
Brad Boswell Government & Regulatory Affairs Attorney Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath Indianapolis, IN
Associate

Brad collaborates with clients to advance their goals through navigating government regulatory systems and serving as an advocate in legislative and administrative law matters. Brad has a breadth of experience in government and public sector law at the local, state and federal levels.

Past Experience

Prior to joining the firm, Brad worked for several years in the government relations office at Indiana University. Brad was also a former summer associate with Faegre Baker Daniels, served as a legal extern with the Indiana Supreme Court and served five years as a U.S. Air...

317-237-1368
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