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Indiana lawmakers send COVID-19 lawsuit shield to governor

A bill giving Indiana businesses and others broad protections from lawsuits by people blaming them for contracting COVID-19 was given final approval Monday by state lawmakers.

Posted: Feb 16, 2021 8:07 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A bill giving Indiana businesses and others broad protections from lawsuits by people blaming them for contracting COVID-19 was given final approval Monday by state lawmakers.

The Republican-dominated state Senate voted 39-7 to send the bill to GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has endorsed the proposal. House members voted last week to approve the bill, which is a top priority of Republican legislative leaders even though supporters don’t point to any such lawsuits in the state.

The proposal would be retroactive to March 1, 2020— just before the first coronavirus infection was confirmed in Indiana— and only allow lawsuits against businesses when “gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct” can be proved with “clear and convincing evidence.”

Republicans call the protections a key step toward economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down some businesses for months and the state health department says has killed nearly 12,000 people in Indiana.

Some Democrats questioned whether the bill’s protections are too broad, especially as they could block lawsuits against nursing homes over illnesses and deaths among residents.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Mark Messmer, of Jasper, maintained that was not the case. He has previously said questions about whether to shield nursing homes and other medical providers from lawsuits will be addressed in a separate bill that will go before legislators later during this year’s session.

“They won’t be able to use this bill as a mean as a means of cover,” Messmer noted. “They’ll still be held to the highest standard that they should be, and they know that they will be, for duty of care.”

Congressional Republicans have pushed for a national legal shield, but it has stalled amid opposition from Democrats. Businesses across the country have raised lawsuit fears, with similar protections approved last year in some states, including Georgia, Iowa and Tennessee, while lawmakers in Alabama, Montana, North Dakota and other states are working to adopt them this year.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 660071

Reported Deaths: 12531
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion904161633
Lake48298874
Allen35720633
Hamilton31970396
St. Joseph29796510
Elkhart25331412
Vanderburgh21192377
Tippecanoe19927199
Johnson16312356
Porter15917269
Hendricks15785300
Clark11913180
Madison11717315
Vigo11562229
Monroe10300159
Delaware9824179
LaPorte9739196
Howard9038195
Kosciusko8539108
Bartholomew7424147
Hancock7399130
Warrick7399150
Floyd7180167
Wayne6622191
Grant6413157
Boone606888
Morgan6066124
Dubois5890111
Dearborn544466
Cass542899
Marshall5414104
Henry541392
Noble508476
Jackson464165
Shelby459890
Lawrence4174111
Gibson400981
Harrison397863
Clinton394453
Montgomery385083
DeKalb384378
Knox356285
Miami356163
Whitley348435
Huntington341876
Steuben337455
Wabash330576
Putnam328259
Ripley326461
Adams322149
Jasper314843
White297152
Jefferson293773
Daviess285096
Fayette271156
Decatur270188
Greene260780
Posey260431
Wells257174
Scott250050
LaGrange240770
Clay240344
Randolph225376
Spencer216930
Jennings214344
Washington209927
Sullivan202939
Fountain201042
Starke187250
Owen181953
Fulton177937
Jay177528
Carroll176218
Perry173335
Orange170950
Rush164322
Vermillion160141
Franklin159135
Tipton145941
Parke138615
Pike127432
Blackford120527
Pulaski106544
Newton96531
Brown94839
Benton91713
Crawford90313
Martin80114
Warren75312
Switzerland7527
Union66910
Ohio52911
Unassigned0433

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

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