December 01, 2020
Legislation that would have safeguarded certain entities across Pennsylvania, including schools, healthcare providers, and other businesses, from facing coronavirus-related lawsuits has been vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
The Republican-backed measure, which passed both houses of the Pennsylvania state legislature in November along partisan lines, would have “undermined COVID-19 mitigation efforts and endangered the public health by enacting overly broad immunity protections from civil liability due to the pandemic,” Wolf said.
“Shielding entities from liability in such a broad fashion as provided under this bill invites the potential for carelessness and a disregard for public safety,” Wolf said.
While the governor reiterated his support for providing protections against liability for emergency and disaster services activities taken by healthcare practitioners, Wolf said that the GOP-led bill would have expanded protections “by limiting liability to various entities, including manufacturers, distributors, labelers, and users of personal protective equipment, business services, and covered providers.”
“Providing immunity for a business that does not rigorously comply with public health orders does not ensure the safety of the public, its employees, and is not in the public interest,” Wolf said.
“At a time when the COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly, we need to be taking measures to ensure compliance with public health order and improve safety practices,” he continued. “We should not be providing protection for noncompliance or carelessness.”
Supporters of the legislation argued that the COVID-19 pandemic should not further impose on businesses and litigation across the state. Some Republican legislators took to Twitter to criticize Wolf’s veto.
#Update: Governor Wolf has vetoed House Bill 1737.— Senator Scott Martin (@SenatorMartinPA) November 30, 2020
Make no mistake, the losers of this outcome are our hospitals, nursing homes, schools, universities, farms, non-profits, etc. The only winners are the trial lawyers.https://t.co/zIn0wtUoAx
“It’s really a shame after all the governor has done to stand in the way of small business and devastate our economy he is once again blocking our attempt to do what needs to be done to help our businesses at this time,” House Republican spokesman Jason Gottesman said to the Associated Press.