Senate Bill Providing Businesses with Coronavirus Legal Protections Takes Important First Step

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee heard sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 308. This legislation provides Ohio businesses important legal protections against potential coronavirus lawsuits.

In Sen. Matt Huffman’s sponsor testimony, he highlighted how businesses will likely face an onslaught of coronavirus lawsuits that will attempt to hold them liable for a situation they could not have prepared for in advance. He also stated the goal of SB 308 is to address this onslaught of litigation that could cripple Ohio’s economic comeback.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce agrees with Sen. Huffman and believes providing legal protections against coronavirus exposure and other related lawsuits needs to be a part of re-opening Ohio’s economy.

The legal protections contained in SB 308 provide broad protections for employers against exposure lawsuits that allege individuals contracted the coronavirus while on their premises. It will also protect manufacturers who altered their businesses to produce PPE and other necessary supplies like hand sanitizer and soap.

Due to the nature of the coronavirus, essential businesses that remained open during Governor DeWine’s Stay at Home Order could face countless lawsuits or class action claims alleging the plaintiffs contracted COVID-19 while a customer in a store or business. For manufacturers who quickly converted their lines to produce needed PPE and medical supplies, they could face lawsuits alleging their products failed to keep individuals protected against the coronavirus.

Even employers that closed during the Stay at Home Order could face potential coronavirus exposure lawsuits once they re-open since the risk of spreading the virus still remains.

Sen. Huffman’s SB 308 goes a long way in stopping these types of coronavirus related lawsuits, and it is why the Ohio Chamber supports this important legislation. In addition to support from business groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found in a recent poll that over 60% of Americans believe Congress should act to provide businesses with the same type of legal protections that are found in SB 308.

By providing these key protections, the Ohio Chamber believes SB 308 will aid Ohio’s economic recovery because employers will not have to be fearful of a future lawsuit alleging they opened too soon. Removing that obstacle to opening back up provides employers with certainty about their risk and allows them to focus on serving their customers like they did before the coronavirus hit.

At the Ohio Chamber, our focus every day is on creating a vibrant business climate that provides economic growth for the benefit of all Ohioans, and one of the best ways to accomplish that goal is by creating a common-sense civil justice system. Senate Bill 308 does just that by recognizing it is impossible for businesses to eliminate the risk of exposure to the virus no matter what precautions they put in place.