Oklahoma Senate Passes Bill Granting Businesses Civil Immunity from COVID Exposure Claims

May 11, 2020

Credit Aaron Pruzaniec / Licensed under CC 2.0

The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill on Monday to give businesses immunity from lawsuits alleging they exposed someone to COVID-19.

Senate Bill 1946 grants businesses civil immunity as long as they were following any federal, state or local guidance in place at the time of the alleged exposure.

Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) said the bill is not doing away with any regulations.

"It is simply a good-faith attempt to deal with a situation in which businesses may be reluctant to reopen if they do not have some protection from allegations of injury due to COVID where they are doing business," Daniels said.

Sen. Michael Brooks (D-Oklahoma City) asked Daniels how that might affect employers like a pork processing facility in Guymon where workers have alleged they were not allowed to properly practice physical distancing during an outbreak.

"But if worker’s comp actions are civil actions, what would prevent an insurance company from being able to use this to exert complete immunity?" Brooks said.

"Thank you for the question. I don’t have an answer for that," Daniels said.

Daniels said the bill is needed to protect businesses as Oklahoma implements Governor Kevin Stitt’s reopening plan.

The measure passed the Senate 34–11 with two Republicans joining all nine Democrats in the chamber opposed. It now goes to the House.

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