HARRISBURG – Health care providers, schools, businesses and others who followed COVID-19 public health directives would be protected from unfair lawsuits for good-faith actions they took during the pandemic under legislation approved by the Senate this week, said state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23).
Yaw noted that House Bill 1737, as amended in the Senate, aims to head off waves of lawsuits that could bankrupt already struggling employers and unfairly harm institutions who did their best to follow the changing and sometimes conflicting guidance provided by state and federal governments.
People and entities covered by the legislation would still be responsible for any intentionally wrongful acts and acts considered “reckless.” Most will also be responsible for any “gross negligence.” (Manufacturers of personal protective equipment who donated PPEs or sold them at cost are protected against “gross negligence” claims.)
Under the legislation, claims of negligence must be demonstrated by “clear and convincing evidence,” rather than “by a preponderance of evidence.” The measure applies to health care providers, PPE manufacturers, schools, universities and childcare providers, as well as business and government service providers.
House Bill 1737 also provides liability protection to farmers who want to host agritourism events like hayrides, farm tours and corn mazes. The site must post specific warning signs, and have a signed, written agreement with a participant that they have acknowledged the risk of participating in an agritourism activity.
Additionally, the bill also extends to “land banks” the same environmental liability protection that is presently granted to economic development agencies when dealing with brownfields and other contaminated sites. Land banks are one of the tools that municipalities may use to facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use.
The legislation now heads to the Governor’s desk.
For more state-related news and information visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.
CONTACT: Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff (717) 787-3280