Buckeye Institute Supports Businesses Being Immune to COVID-19 Lawsuits


The Buckeye Institute submitted written testimony Wednesday to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee on the policies of Senate Bill 308, which would provide businesses and workers with immunity from COVID-19 related lawsuits.

The full testimony is available here.

As he did in his testimony to the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee, Andrew J. Geisler, a legal fellow with The Buckeye Institute’s Legal Center, applauded policymakers for “ensuring that Ohio businesses taking reasonable precautions against the spread of COVID-19 can begin to reopen without fearing virus-related lawsuits and liability.”

Geisler urged the committee to define “reasonable conduct” in the COVID-19 context using either the state’s or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for workplace safety.

The institute recommended this in a recent policy memo.

His remarks included this:

To avoid tort liability, businesses and individuals must take reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers from obvious risks. The unique uncertainty and health risks created by the novel coronavirus, however, make defining “reasonable precautions” on a case-by-case basis untenable and would invite unnecessary litigation even against businesses taking reasonable precautions as they reopen. Lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits alleging virus exposure will further strain our dormant economy as it moves toward recovery. Many businesses may delay reopening or spend significant resources to take reasonable precautions only to be sued despite their best efforts. Ohio should keep that from happening by shielding those businesses and individuals adhering to recommended safety guidelines from tort liability for virus-related harms.

Similarly, as health care and other front-line workers continue to take great personal risk in the fight against COVID-19, Ohio should shield them from virus-related tort liability for the actions they take in the scope of their employment. The special tort liability rule should allow the medical community to continue taking reasonable care and precautions to treat patients without the latent threat of costly tort litigation. Such a rule will help health care providers, business owners, and individuals to continue to act safely and with confidence.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “Ohio Capitol” by Mj. CC BY-SA 4.0.








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