October 27, 2020

Volume X, Number 301

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October 27, 2020

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October 26, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Ohio Law Shields Businesses and Health Care Providers from COVID-19 Lawsuits

This week, Ohio joined Georgia, Idaho, Nevada and Tennessee in enacting laws to provide its businesses with some protection from civil liability related to COVID-19.  

On Sept. 14, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law H.B. 606, which temporarily shields for-profit and not-for-profit businesses, religious institutions, and individuals from state law claims and class actions related to the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, businesses in the state are protected from civil claims and lawsuits by customers, employees or others for injury, death or loss from transmission or contraction of COVID-19, except where recklessness or misconduct can be shown. 

The new law states, in relevant part:

No civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property shall be brought against any person if the cause of action on which the civil action is based, in whole or in part, is that the injury, death, or loss to person or property is caused by the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2, or any mutation thereof, unless it is established that the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, any of those viruses or mutations was by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person against whom the action is brought.

The new law also protects health care providers from civil liability or professional disciplinary action for the transmission of COVID-19 in the provision, withholding or withdrawing of health care services, emergency medical services, first-aid treatment, or other emergency professional care, except where recklessness or misconduct by the health care provider is shown.

The Ohio General Assembly’s rationale for this temporary measure was that guidance on how to keep the public safe has shifted frequently. As businesses have reopened, many business owners have been unsure of best practices to avoid not only infection, but also tort liability. The Ohio General Assembly also noted that, historically, businesses have not been required to prevent public exposure to the airborne spread of a virus. 

The law is retroactive to March 9, 2020 and is in effect until September 30, 2021.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 261
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About this Author

Douglas Oldham Labor and Employment Law Attorney Barnes Thornburg Law Firm
Of Counsel

Douglas M. Oldham is of counsel in the Columbus and Chicago offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department.

Mr. Oldham has represented employers in employment discrimination litigation since entering the firm in 2004. He has accumulated significant labor and employment litigation experience throughout that time, including:

  • briefing numerous successful motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss, as well as copious nondispositive motions, in federal...

312-214-5605
Of Counsel

Leveraging deep experience as outside and in-house counsel, Christina M. “Tina” Janice is passionate about partnering with employers throughout the United States to help them thrive. A skilled employment law litigator and counselor, she helps clients navigate the challenges of growing and managing their workforce.

With a unique practice spanning nearly 30 years as a career litigator, trial lawyer and former head of litigation for a multinational S&P 500 company, Tina is sought out by major corporations and local business owners for providing sophisticated representation to budget in defending class and collective actions multidistrict and single plaintiff litigation, and government investigations. She offers insightful counsel in corporate restructuring and retrenchment, human resources practices, internal investigations, compliance planning, and training. 

Tina represents clients in nationwide and regional employment discrimination and commercial litigation, wage and hour class and collective actions and administrative complaints, whistleblower complaints, federal and state enforcement litigations, and high-profile executive and single-plaintiff civil rights and employment disputes. She also handles Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and disputes across the country.

Tina’s breadth of experience includes major motions, trials and appeals, as well as case investigation and fact and expert discovery including complex statistical evidence. She has represented clients extensively in mediation, arbitration, and in negotiating Department of Labor (DOL) compliance partnerships and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state counterpart consent decrees.

Additionally, Tina counsels on a wide variety of compliance topics, ranging from domestic and international human resources matters to human resources administration best practices, performance management, executive compensation and severance, loss prevention, OSHA compliance, COVID-19 planning, to virtually all aspects of workforce integration, retrenchment, WARN compliance, and employment risk reduction incident to mergers and acquisitions. 

Attuned to the pressing needs of her clients to maximize value in legal services, Tina partners with busy employers to provide practical, reliable advice. She is frequently entrusted with conducting complex internal investigations and C-suite investigations, developing and providing effective risk prevention and EEOC-approved training to compliance officers and executives, and assisting leaders with crisis communications.

Tina is most proud of her work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Marshals Service and legal aid societies in the recovery of abducted children.

312-214-4802
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