INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric J. Holcomb has signed Senate Bill 1 into law.
The bill provides businesses and schools with COVID-19 liability protections.
Holcomb offered the following statement after signing the bill on Thursday, Feb. 18.
“The pandemic has affected Hoosier businesses, schools and others in ways no one could have foreseen just one year ago. To aid in the state’s recovery, I made providing assurances that they will not have to live and work in fear of frivolous lawsuits a part of my Next Level Agenda. Most Hoosier businesses and other organizations are making good faith attempts to protect their customers and employees, because it is the right thing to do and it makes for better business in the long run. I want to thank lawmakers for rapidly passing this key piece of legislation and sending it to my desk for signature.”
The bill was authored by State Sens. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, and Eric Koch, R-Bedford. It had 24 co-authors, including State. Sen. Blake Doriot, of rural Syracuse.
It “provides civil tort immunity for damages arising from COVID-19 on the premises owned or operated by a person, on any premises on which the person or an employee or agent of the person provided property or services to the individual, or during an activity managed, organized, or sponsored by the person, except for an act or omission that constitutes gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct (including fraud and intentionally tortious acts),” according to its digest.
Indiana is not alone in working on the protections. An article from The National Law Review in July 2020 said “at least 12 states – including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming – have begun enacting such legislation to narrow the liability limits related to and stemming from COVID-19.”
State Rep. Craig Snow (R-Warsaw) supported the bill, and pointed to a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses that found that 55% of Hoosier small businesses considered the possibility of pandemic-related legal action a serious concern.
“It’s critical that Indiana’s businesses keep their doors open and Hoosier jobs are protected. I think this law is a necessary step to give some security to our employers and schools, as we all continue to navigate this pandemic,” Snow said.