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Okla. Senate passes bill to protect firms from virus lawsuits

Oklahoma capitol

A Republican bill that would protect businesses from lawsuits arising from the COVID-19 pandemic passed the Oklahoma Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill 1946 would provide liability immunity to businesses “in a civil action claiming an injury from exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19” provided they are compliant with federal, state and local guidance at the time of the alleged exposure.

For immunity to apply, businesses must be in compliance with “written guidelines” related to COVID-19 issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Oklahoma state department of health, Oklahoma department of commerce, or any other state agency, board or commission, the bill states.

The bill, which is sponsored by Republic Senators Greg Treat and David Bullard and Rep. Charles McCall, passed the senate 34 to 11 in a vote Tuesday. The bill was opposed by all nine Democratic senators and will now move to the House.

The Oklahoma development comes as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are pushing for businesses and health care workers to be protected from “opportunistic lawsuits” as companies reopen after the coronavirus lockdown.

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.