On April 6, 2021, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law an almost unanimously passed legislative bill that repeals a widely-criticized law that improvidently granted broad COVID-19 immunity from civil and criminal responsibility to an expansive group of people and entities in April 2020. The COVID immunity law had provided a shield from liability to nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, nurses, and others unless their actions/omissions were willful, reckless, or gross negligence or involved criminal misconduct.
The stated justification for repeal of Article 30-D of the Public Health Law, known as the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, was:
As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed in New York State, it is now apparent that negligence by administrators and executives of nursing homes has occurred to an extraordinary degree. The ELFA bill (A.9506/S.7506) in the FY 2021 state budget bills codified Article 30-D of the Public Health Law. In particular, Article 30-D egregiously uses severe liability standards as a means to insulate health care facilities and specifically, administrators and executives of such facilities, from any civil or criminal liability for negligence. Repealing this article is a much-needed step to holding health care administrators accountable and doing everything possible to stop more preventable deaths from happening. Attorney General Letitia James January 2021 report found that Article 30-D may have provided nursing homes with "financial incentives to put residents at risk of harm by refraining from investing public funds to obtain sufficient staffing to meet residents' care needs, to purchase sufficient PPE for staff, and to provide effective training to staff to comply with infection control protocols during pandemics and other public health emergencies."' The consequences have been tragic: an estimated 15,000 nursing home residents passed away from COVID.2 This bill would repeal the protections granted to nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities, as recommended by Attorney General James.
The newly enacted repeal simply states:
AN ACT to repeal article 30-d of the public health law relating to the emergency or disaster treatment protection act The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:
Section 1. Article 30-d of the public health law is REPEALED.
§ 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
The repeal, which is not retroactive, was passed by the New York Assembly by a 149 to 1 vote in March 2021 and was subsequently approved unanimously by the New York Senate. Now, innocent victims of COVID-19 medical malpractice may have a fighting chance to find justice under New York law.
If you or a loved one may be the victim of COVID-19 medical malpractice in New York or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a New York COVID-19 medical malpractice lawyer, or a COVID-19 medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your COVID-19 medical malpractice claim for you and represent you and/or your loved one in a COVID-19 medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find COVID-19 attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.
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