INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal that would protect Indiana businesses and corporations from being sued over their response to COVID-19 has advanced in the Indiana Senate.
Senate Bill 1 passed Thursday by a vote of 40-8. It grants civil immunity for corporations and prohibits class action lawsuits against them unless there is “gross negligence or willful misconduct” on the part of the businesses.
The protections are a top priority for the Indiana Chamber, a powerful lobbying organization for state lawmakers.
All eight senators who voted against it were Democrats.
“While I agree that our local businesses do deserve some protection from fraudulent lawsuits, this bill unfortunately falls short when it comes to ensuring the rights of vulnerable populations,” Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said. “One critical component not included in this bill is necessary protections for senior Hoosiers in long-term care residential facilities. While many facilities were dedicated to caring for our loved ones, it's imperative that in instances of neglect families have a path for legal action. The civil immunity language in this proposal is also cause for concern. Because it’s so broad, it poses the risk of prohibiting individuals with valid lawsuits from bringing them up against businesses that intentionally did not follow proper COVID-19 guidelines.”