Kentucky Passes Liability Protections for Businesses, Healthcare Facilities

Kentucky lawmakers voted to shield businesses and health care facilities from coronavirus-related lawsuits as they hurried to finish work Tuesday before ending this year’s session.

Beshear’s office said the governor and his team would review the final version of each bill that comes to them and decide what’s in the best interest of Kentuckians.

Lawmakers ended the contentious 30-day session shortly before midnight. The session was overshadowed by a flurry of GOP-backed bills to water down the governor’s executive powers.

After spending weeks in limbo, the long-simmering liability protection measure resurfaced to clear the House on a 70-27 vote. The Senate later voted 24-14 to send the bill to Beshear.

The COVID-related bill aims to offer liability protections for businesses looking to recover from the pandemic without creating blanket immunity from civil liability, Republican Rep. C. Ed Massey said. Those protections wouldn’t apply if businesses engaged in practices deemed as grossly negligent or as willful or intentional misconduct, he said.

“We have really tried to thread the needle … to give an adequate amount of protection while not giving them blanket immunity,” Massey said.

The bill’s critics portrayed the liability shield as an overreach interfering with constitutional protections on access to the courts.

“I trust our juries and I trust our judges to weed out frivolous claims and to protect those who need protecting,” said Democratic Rep. Angie Hatton said.

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Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.