Friday, April 23, 2021 - 12:15 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today signed legislation that creates common-sense liability protections to shield health care providers, businesses and others from frivolous claims related to exposure to COVID-19.

Those joining Burgum for the signing of House Bill 1175 included the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Michael Howe, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Jerry Klein, and Arik Spencer, president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber.

Burgum noted that North Dakota health care providers and businesses did their best to protect their patients, customers and team members through extremely challenging conditions and ever-changing rules and recommendations during the pandemic.

“It’s important that we provide common-sense protections for those North Dakotans who were doing everything they could,” Burgum said before signing the bill. “Legislation like House Bill 1175 will protect these businesses, organizations, medical providers and educational providers from frivolous lawsuits arising from COVID-19 exposure, while still allowing claims in situations that involved ill intentions or reckless acts.”

House Bill 1175 protects health care providers, businesses and other facilities from civil liability for any act in response to COVID-19 that causes or contributes to the death or injury of a person. It also protects an individual who designs, manufactures, labels, sells and distributes disinfecting or cleaning supplies that protect from COVID-19, from civil liability for personal injury, death or property damage. The bill does not protect against actions that constitute willful and wanton misconduct, or reckless or intentional infliction of harm.

The legislation applies retroactively to Jan. 1, 2020, covering the entire COVID-19 pandemic.

“With a higher and higher percentage of people getting vaccinated, we know that the light at the end of the tunnel grows closer, and this legislation will allow the health care system, businesses and our entire state to move forward with this protection and emerge stronger than ever,” Burgum said.

The governor thanked Howe, Klein and fellow bill sponsors, Reps. Glenn Bosch, Bill Devlin, Mike Lefor, Corey Mock and Sen. Randy Burckhard, as well as Wardner and House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, and the business and medical communities for their support and work on the legislation. The bill was approved 77-17 in the House and 41-6 in the Senate.