COVID Liability Protections Now Law

A KLC initiative that protects local governments and businesses from frivolous COVID-related lawsuits is now law. The legislature passed Senate Bill 5 on the last day of the 2021 session. Governor Andy Beshear did not act on the bill within his allotted 10 days, so the bill became law on Sunday morning without the governor’s signature. An emergency clause in the legislation makes it effective immediately.

Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) sponsored the bill, which is specifically tailored for the current COVID public health emergency. Protections only extend from the date a public health emergency was declared (March 6, 2020), “until the emergency declaration is withdrawn, revoked, or lapses.”

The bill provides protections for various essential service providers, including schools, health care facilities, public agencies, food service and child care ‒ as long as they follow basic public health guidelines. The measure spells out that liability protections do not apply to cases of “gross negligence, or wanton, willful, malicious, or intentional misconduct.”