Ohio House Bill 606 – Immunity From Lawsuits
Now, this immunity from lawsuits is not unlimited. In order for a business owner to be liable for a customer’s exposure and possible resulting damages, the customer will have to establish that the exposure was due to the “reckless conduct or intentional misconduct or willful or wanton misconduct on part of the [business] against whom the action is brought.” This will be a pretty high bar from the customer to jump over.
The customer will have to establish more than just mere negligence. The customer will basically have to establish that the business purposefully took steps to allow the virus to spread or failed to take any precautions in stopping the spread.
The legislation goes even further. The legislation states that customers also have some responsibility for their own actions. Customers “who decide to go out into public spaces are responsible to take those steps they feel are necessary to avoid exposure to COVID-19, such as social distancing and wearing masks.” And, the legislation provides that any guidance from the governor or local boards of health will not create any new legal duties for business owners and any such orders will not even be admissible at trial. Even though the orders may be inadmissible, a creative plaintiff’s attorney will always be able to assert evidence as to virus spread along with best practices even if an underlying governmental order is inadmissible at trial.
So, while some people may not think this legislation was unnecessary, it is the law in Ohio (at least until there is a successful legal challenge). I think most business owners are going to do what is right to protect staff and customers. If as a customer you are like minded, then make sure to patronize those businesses that are incurring additional expenses to keep you safe!
Do you have a question related to Ohio House Bill 606?
Schedule a free consultation today.
FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION
Schedule your free no-obligation consultation today!
Founding Partner at Corpus Law Inc