PA State Senate Considers Liability Protection Bill for Health Care Providers, PPE Manufacturers and Certain Employers

On July 27, 2020, Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Baker (R, Dist. 20)[1] introduced Senate Bill 1239, which the Pennsylvania State Senate referred to its Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill provides certain liability protections to health care providers, manufacturers, distributors, and labelers of personal protective equipment (PPE), and employers who are permitted to provide goods and services to the public in a disaster emergency.

Apart from sections addressing definitions and guidelines, the bill’s three core sections address liability as it relates to PPE, business services and covered providers. The PPE provisions offer liability protections to those who manufacture, distribute, label, and donate PPE in specified circumstances. The bill also offers liability protection related to the use of PPE. As noted in the previous paragraph, business services protections are limited to those open to the public pursuant to the terms of a proclamation of disaster emergency. As for the third core section, the bill broadens the definition of health care practitioners from that found in Governor Wolf’s May 6, 2020 executive order to include, among others, outpatient facilities.

Excepted from the liability protections offered by the bill are circumstances in which there is “clear and convincing evidence” of gross negligence, recklessness, willful misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm. Any act or omission in compliance with guidelines issued by the federal or Commonwealth government regarding the use or manufacturing of PPE, treatment or testing of individuals with or reasonably believed to have COVID-19, or recommendations to prevent, limit, or slow the spread of the pandemic is deemed to automatically enjoy the liability protection. In fact, the PPE and business services sections of the bill include provisions that grant liability protection to those who simply have a good faith belief that the act or omission in question is in compliance with applicable guidelines.

Stevens & Lee’s Government Affairs Specialists are tracking the progress of the bill, so please return to this blog for updates. The complete text of the bill is available here.

[1] The bill is co-sponsored by State Senators Stefano, Brooks, Phillips-Hill, Argall, Mensch, Gordner, Pittman, Aument, Arnold, Barlotta, and J. Ward.