|House Judiciary spent 90 minutes discussing SB277, the Covid 19 Jobs Protection Act. Described by counsel as a “definitions driven bill,” this Governor’s bill limits certain claims against persons or entities arising from COVID-19, COVID-19 care, or impacted care. It extinguishes liability for death or personal injury related to the design, manufacture, or labeling of supplies or personal protective equipment either sold or donated.The bill creates an exception to the extinguishment of claims for persons having actual knowledge of a product defect acting with conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to a substantial and unnecessary risk or with actual malice. It makes workers’ compensation the sole and exclusive remedy for COVID-19-related injuries or conditions through employment. The bill is retroactive to January 1, 2020. ‘
In an unusual discussion, Committee Vice-Chairman Fast provided or supported several amendments, stating that it is a “disservice to protect willful and intentional actions.” An amendment to provide a date of finality, determined to be when the Governor lifts the state emergency also failed. Vice-Chairman Fast stated, with regard to PPE, “We are leaving no duty of care or standards but it’s going to enjoy total immunity.” Several members who voted against amendments stated that they would “weaken the bill.” A delegate speaking against the bill provided a letter from AARP expressing strong opposition to blanket immunity and noted that WV would be an outlier from several other states who have passed more limited Covid 19 immunity. The bill passed.