Senate Approves Liability Protection During Pandemic

Mike Seals - May 12, 2020 10:53 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The full Senate has approved legislation giving liability relief to essential businesses and those working to safely reopen, as well as a measure protecting manufacturers and people who make or donate materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, a third bill giving limited liability to health care providers and facilities has been signed into law.

Senate Bill 1946, by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, was approved Monday and provides civil liability protection for businesses safely reopening while acting in accordance with government guidance or those operating as a government-directed essential business during the state of emergency.  Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, presented the measure to the full Senate.

“These are businesses that followed government guidance on when and how to open while minimizing risk by adhering to safety protocols—they performed essential functions in the early days of the pandemic or are now reopening in an effort to get our economy going again,” Daniels said.  “This law will protect those businesses from being sued by someone trying to blame them for alleged exposure to COVID-19.”

Senate Bill 1947, also by Treat and McCall, was approved on Tuesday, provides lawsuit protections to those who manufacture or donate materials needed in response to the virus.  Daniels presented the bill on the floor.

“We’re talking about companies who switched gears to produce materials they don’t normally manufacture or increased manufacturing capacity to meet the enormous needs we were facing here in Oklahoma for things like masks, sanitizers, testing kits and other products,” Daniels said.  “It also covers individuals or other entities who were making things at home to donate, or who donated materials they already had on hand.”

Daniels said the liability protection strikes a good balance between protecting the good actors who have stepped up to help Oklahoma respond to COVID-19 and leaving out potential bad actors who intentionally sold defective products.

Both measures now move to the House of Representatives.

Last week, Daniels won Senate approval for a measure limiting liability for health care providers and facilities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  SB 300, authored by Daniels and Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, was signed into law by the governor Tuesday, May 12.  The measure provides immunity to a health care facility or health care provider from civil liability for any alleged loss or harm to a person with a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, unless the act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

For more information, contact Sen. Julie Daniels at 405-521-5634 or email [email protected].

 

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