Liability Protections Necessary for Smart Restart

Business and Health Care Organizations Say Legislature Must Take Action to Ensure Full Recovery

(Harrisburg, PA) Health care providers should be able to deliver care and Pennsylvanians should be able to reopen the economy without fear of getting sued. Today, leaders of Pennsylvania’s business and health care community, along with the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, called on the legislature and Governor to provide safe harbor protections to businesses and health care providers so Pennsylvanians can safely restart the economy and continue to provide access to world renowned care without being impeded by lawsuits.

“Once again, Pennsylvania is the outlier when it comes to offering liability protection for our businesses and healthcare providers,” said Curt Schroder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform. “Our neighbors, New York and New Jersey, have taken strong legislative steps to enact protections for health care providers that are much more comprehensive than Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order.  No protection is provided at all in the executive order for businesses meeting the unprecedented demand for Personal Protective Equipment, nor are businesses protected as they re-open in the face of the continuing pandemic. The legislature needs to act with urgency to provide necessary protections to prevent any delay or impediment to Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. Pennsylvanians need to focus on getting the economy going again, not the constant worry and threat of being sued.”

Dr. Lawrence John, President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said: “Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order granted physicians medical liability immunity in some settings but not others. What he failed to take into account is that COVID-19 infections are treated in outpatient settings, including doctors’ offices. The freedom to respond quickly and confidently to any patient with COVID-19 symptoms –whether they visit in a hospital or an office– is essential to providing the highest quality of care.”

Andy Carter, President, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said: “We are not seeking ridiculous provisions protecting malevolent policies, gross organizational negligence, or willful misconduct.

Instead, we want the organizations that employ our health care heroes to have the same protections against frivolous lawsuits, which are untethered to the reality of providing treatment of a novel illness under an emergency declaration. As it stands now, the Governor’s order does not stop these lawsuits; it does not stop worry about lawsuits getting in the way of providing the best care; and it does not stop the trials, the depositions, and the other onerous parts of litigation that will keep all our health care heroes tied up instead of defeating COVID-19.”

David N. Taylor, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, said: “Manufacturers have answered the Governor’s call to retool so they can provide the essential gear our front-line health care workers need to fight the pandemic: masks, surgical gowns, face shields, antibacterial sanitizer, and ventilators. Through the DCED portal and elsewhere, these Pennsylvania manufacturers have taken on the risk of making an unfamiliar product or accelerating the production of an existing product line. Because these manufacturers are helping the people who are helping patients, they deserve Good Samaritan protections against predatory and opportunistic lawsuits. Governor Wolf asked these manufacturers to respond, and they have. It would be unjust to abandon them now.”

Gene Barr, President of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, said: “Pennsylvania’s economy has suffered enormous damage as a result of this pandemic, and it’s going to take enormous collaboration to get business back up and running again. At both the state and federal level, it’s imperative that temporary and targeted liability reforms are put in place as soon as possible. Without them, everyone from healthcare providers to those working to keep our supply chains going to small businesses that are already struggling just to keep their doors open will be held back even more with the looming threat of frivolous lawsuits. This will only prevent our Commonwealth from experiencing the economic resurgence we desperately need –and without it, the state may never truly financially recover. On behalf of Pennsylvania’s broad-based business community, we are urging elected officials to act without delay on passing critical liability reforms.”

Contact: Curt Schroder, PCCJR Executive Director, 610.389.4293,
The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform is a 501(c )(6), not-for-profit, nonpartisan advocacy organization comprised of a diverse group of organizations and individuals committed to bringing fairness to Pennsylvania’s courts by raising awareness of civil justice issues and advocating for legal reform. Additional information is available at https://paforciviljusticereform.org

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