Overview: On March 20, 2020, Governor Little signed House Bill 529, which provides civil immunity for certain professionals during disasters in response to a declared national, state, or local emergency, disaster, or catastrophic event.
Additionally, on August 24, 2020, the Idaho House introduced House Bill 2, House Bill 3, House Bill 4, and House Bill 5, respectively. These bills provide COVID-19 liability protections to persons, accredited institutions of higher education and to persons who take actions in good faith to address a coronavirus-related disaster or emergency, which includes the owners and operators of any premises.
- House Bill 529 covers certain professionals including, architects, engineers, and contractors;
- House Bill 2 covers “persons”, defined broadly as any entity recognized in Idaho including, “individual[s], corporation[s], limited liability company[ies], partnership[s], trust[s], association[s], cit[ies], count[ies], school district[s], college[s], university[ies] or other institution[s] of higher education, or other unit[s] of local government.” However, “person” does not include any Idaho public health district, the federal government or any of its agencies, the state of Idaho or any of its agencies, or any foreign government.
- House Bill 3 covers “accredited institutions of higher education”, defined as “any public or private university, college, or community college in Idaho accredited by the northwest association of schools and colleges or any public professional-technical school operated by the state of Idaho or any political subdivision thereof”; and
- House Bills 4 and 5 cover “persons who take actions in good faith”, which refers broadly to “any and all individuals and private and public entities in any location and at any time, including without limitation, providers of goods and services, owners and operation of any premises such as stores, restaurants, bars, hotels, assisted living facilities, offices, schools, colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education, libraries, hospitals, medical clinics, residences, homes, churches, daycare facilities, and the like that function or operate during the coronavirus-related disaster or emergency…”
- Under House Bill 529, no architect, engineer, or contractor may be held liable for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, or other loss related to a service provided at the request or approval of a national, state, or local public official in response to a declared emergency, disaster, or a catastrophic event.
- Under House Bill 2, a “person” is immune from civil liability for damages or an injury resulting from exposure of an individual to coronavirus on the premises owned or operated by the person or during an activity managed by the person.
- Under House Bill 3, an accredited institution of higher education or any of its agents “shall not be liable for any claim arising from transmission or contraction of COVID-19.”
- And under House Bills 4 and 5, a person who acts in “an effort to address or mitigate the disaster or emergency arising from a coronavirus-related disaster or emergency” is immune from civil liability arising from the exposure to or the transmission of the coronavirus for acts or omissions “made in good faith”.
Under House Bill 529, immunity does not apply to architects, engineers, and contractors who render services within ninety (90) days following the end of the declared emergency.
Under House Bill 2, immunity does not apply to a person whose actions are the result of willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.
Under House Bill 3, immunity applies only to accredited institutions of higher education who act “without malice or criminal intent and without reckless, willful, and wanton conduct as defined in section 6-1601” of the Idaho Code.
Under House Bills 4 and 5, the immunity does not apply to persons who fail to make a good faith effort to comply with a “statute, rule, or lawful order of a government entity in effect at the time and such failure is the proximate cause of injury to another”. Moreover, House Bills 4 and 5 do not apply “to acts or omissions that occur during a declared coronavirus-related disaster or emergency that are unrelated to or unaffected by the declared coronavirus-related disaster or emergency”.
Notes: House Bill 529 became effective on July 1, 2020. Whereas, House Bill 2, 3, 4 and 5 have been referred to the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.