Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill Monday that would limit COVID-19 liability for schools, health care providers and other businesses.
House Bill 1737 would limit the liability of businesses, child care facilities, health care facilities and schools for any personal injury or property damage related to COVID-19 exposure. The bill would have applied during disaster emergency proclamations.
Under the bill, anyone involved with the manufacturing, distributing, labeling or donating of personal protective gear would not be liable for any property damage or personal injury related to COVID-19 exposure. Anyone providing business or government services would similarly not be liable for any property damage or personal injury related to COVID-19 exposure, “absent a showing, by clear and convincing evidence, of gross negligence, recklessness, willful misconduct or intentional infliction of harm.”
The bill would also limit vicarious liability, as well as liability for any acts or omissions that complied with, or were completed in a good faith belief that they did comply with, public health directives.
In his veto message, Wolf stated support for protections against liability for “emergency and disaster services activities taken by health care practitioners.” However, he noted that providing such broad immunity “invites the potential for carelessness and a disregard for public safety” and that the government “should not be providing protection for noncompliance or carelessness.” Instead, immunity protections needed to be paired with worker protections.