Rejection of General Assembly’s Covid-19 Safe Harbor Legislation Will Hurt PA Healthcare and Businesses
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform’s Executive Director Curt Schroder today issued the following statement after Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill to provide much needed Covid-19 liability protection (HB 1737) and issued his own executive order:
“The General Assembly understood that in the current environment, businesses and health care providers, following government orders and guidelines, should be protected from opportunistic lawsuits. HB 1737 was well considered. The bill was drafted, debated, and passed to protect the heroes of this pandemic, while still holding accountable bad actors engaged in intentional conduct or gross negligence who were not following health orders and guidelines. This reasonable approach is the right approach for Pennsylvania.
“As a result of the Governor’s action, restaurants, stores, hospitals, and others face a bleak outlook for economic recovery. Once the pandemic passes, they will face a barrage of lawsuits second guessing the decisions of those who followed health care guidelines, sanitized their stores and restaurants, and took all of the correct steps to protect the public. Just as businesses, restaurants, health care facilities and others think they have made it through the crisis, the wave of lawsuits to come will prove devastating.
“One must wonder if the Governor even read the bill he vetoed. His veto message states: “Providing immunity for a business that does not rigorously comply with public health orders, does not ensure the safety of the public, its employees and is not in the public interest.” Yet HB 1737 only extends liability protection to those businesses, schools, colleges and universities, child- care centers, and health facilities that do comply with health orders and government standards. They would receive no protection under the bill unless they complied with health orders. It is difficult to understand what the Governor finds objectionable in a bill that meets the criteria he has set forth.
“It is clear that the Governor has no interest in providing meaningful liability protection to those who are soldiering through the Covid pandemic. He would not have taken even the limited action contained in his latest Executive Order had the General Assembly not forced his hand.
“With reports of restaurants closing almost daily, the Governor had the opportunity to protect restaurants and other businesses from additional devastation at the hands of lawyers. Governor Wolf should have used this opportunity to show businesses and health care that he understands the pressures and unique liability exposure they are subjected to during this pandemic by signing the bill.
“PCCJR thanks all of the members of the House and Senate who recognized the need for real protection from frivolous lawsuits brought by lawyers looking to get rich off the Covid pandemic.”
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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, https://www.facebook.com/paciviljustice/ or https://twitter.com/paciviljustice.
CONTACT: Curt Schroder, 610.389.4293 or firstname.lastname@example.org