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Ohio House Passes Bill Granting Essential Businesses Immunity From COVID-19 Lawsuits

A man walks past a closed business Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Tony Dejak
/
Associated Press
A man walks past a closed business Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

A bill to grant essential businesses and health care workers immunity from pandemic-related lawsuits has quickly and overwhelmingly passed the Ohio House. The measure now moves on to the Senate.

State Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland) says HB 606 expands immunity protection to health care workers and facilities, first responders and essential businesses. She says it will also offer stability to businesses that are afraid to open.

“Why? Because the fear of the next negative wave to be spawned by COVID will be the wave of lawsuits," Grendell says.

Nine Democrats voted no on the bill, including state Rep. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), who said current law protects against frivolous lawsuits. He argues this bill could allow businesses to skimp on protecting workers.

“Substitute House Bill 606 is designed not to keep us safe but to protect the corporate elite and incompetent and careless behavior,” Skindell said.

The bill also makes first responders, grocery store workers and prison staff eligible for workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19.