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Home > Topics > Court

Supreme Court rules AEDs not required in Calif. stores

The ruling signals an end to a wrongful death lawsuit alleging Target was liable for a customer's cardiac arrest death because it didn't have one of the devices

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court has ruled that large retailers aren't required to have defibrillators on hand to help treat customers and workers who suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

The ruling Monday signals the end of a Los Angeles-area family's wrongful death lawsuit alleging Target was liable for a customer's sudden cardiac arrest death because it didn't have one of the life-saving devices as part of its first-aid plan.

For two decades, an increasing number of public places in the U.S. have been required to have automated external defibrillators on hand, including government buildings, airports and many other public places.

Associated PressCopyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

But the Supreme Court said that it's an undue burden to require Target to obtain defibrillators and train staff to use them on the random chance that a customer suffers cardiac arrest.

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Greg Grizzly Adams Greg Grizzly Adams Tuesday, June 24, 2014 3:59:20 PM I believe that this ruling has created a precident that will be detrimental to future AED programs. As the use of an AED in now part of the BLS system and taught in first aid courses as well as made available in many caring work environments - this ruling will support those who worship the dollar only and hold the opinion that - it's not my job that's for the EMS to handle. Workplace Health and Safety is everyone's responsibility.
Keith Stafford Keith Stafford Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:06:35 PM Until one of the family members of the supreme court has a heart attack and dies. While shopping at Target
Allen Scamihorn Allen Scamihorn Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:27:35 PM I both agree and disagree with this ruling. I don't think the government should be mandating private entities to have and maintain AED's and personnel training on AED's. I do think it is a good idea to encourage the placing of AED's in private business locations and training the public as a whole in life saving first aid/CPR and AED use. I think what would aid in this more than anything, is in advancing the laws to give more protections to anyone that is willing to become a life saving lay person. Even to the point of their being a national good samaritan law that has better protections against suits than currently exist in any of the states. I think that this would go the furthest in aiding the education of the public and encouraging others to step up and forward to help others in a time of need. It has long been known that most people are afraid to help others because of their ignorance in diseases that people might have and in their fear of being sued by someone or the family of someone they helped or tried to help.
Daniel Gerard Daniel Gerard Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:41:47 PM I am hesitant on this. If they have a first aid kit, to treat employees and members of the public if they get injured...shouldn't they also have a defibrillator? O'Hare Airport in Chicago has defibs within 1 minute of any location in the airport. They are public access and are frequently used by members of the lay public.
Michael Charles Michael Charles Tuesday, June 24, 2014 5:02:10 PM Allen what good does it do a sudden cardiac arrest victim in a private business for someone to "step up and forward to help others in time of need" if the private business (as large as a Target, a Walmart, a Home Depot, a shopping mall) doesn't have the AED onsite? You state you don't think the government should be mandating private entities to have and maintain AED's and personal training on AED's. Why not? The government should and does mandate private entitles to maintain fire safety codes (fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems) building safety codes, occupational safety codes, health codes. Do you agree or disagree with government mandates for private entities to safeguard the public and the employees? If you agree with these mandated safeguards, why would you exclude sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death in this country and AED's, the victim's best hope of survival, as a government mandated safeguard?
Michael Charles Michael Charles Tuesday, June 24, 2014 5:19:10 PM Greg this ruling is just detrimental to the wrongful death lawsuit. The ruling, the court didn't say that requring AEDs in private entities was bad public policy. It just stated it wasn't the court's role to implement it. The court said it's legislative branch's role to require it. Fair enough. Then the people need to petition, lobby, and work on their elected representatives to pass laws to mandate the presence of AED's in situations as described in the case. It's been done with mandated CPR be taught in high schools. It can be done with this.
Neville Wood Neville Wood Tuesday, June 24, 2014 6:53:47 PM As well as having the AED's, they should make sure there's someone there trained in how to use them or it will go down the same path as the various service and sports clubs years ago where they were patting themselves on their backs because they had installed Oxy Vivas; the fact that there was no one trained in their use didn't seem to worry anyone.
Michael Charles Michael Charles Tuesday, June 24, 2014 6:57:19 PM Neville Wood I agree. And they have got to keep the batteries charged and maintained. It's not a box with magical powers.
Pascal Hay Pascal Hay Tuesday, June 24, 2014 8:03:28 PM The fire codes were put into place after many hundreds of people died due to unsafe working conditions and unsafe places of public assembly conditions. Fire safety was just not thought about until deaths occurred on a large scale. The electrical codes were enacted for the same reason. Unsafe wiring and electrical components in building construction. Because somebody died and people stepped up and said we are better than this and we can fix it with these codes and educational practices for the employees and employers. An AED, alas is an expensive piece of equipment that requires continuous maintenance and upkeep. The chances of a person having cardiac arrest is present but then it would not affect a mass of people it would only affect the one. If employees were trained in BLS and recognition of medical emergencies they could intervene with rapid CPR and rapid access to the EMS system. Maybe that would be a more cost effective way in order for large stores to protect their employees and customers. The difference between the NFPA life safety codes and the NEC codes vs. AEDs is that AEDs don't save large groups of people only the individual who may happen to arrest in the store.
Peter Green Peter Green Tuesday, June 24, 2014 8:34:45 PM Dan, I helped with SFO AED program, so I think I know some of the legal history. The deal is in California, fire departments and law enforcement agents don't have a duty to respond generally, one exception is airport ARFF programs. CHP is just slightly different, your vehicle registration pays for them, so they have to make a best effort, no response time or other performance requirements. CDF must respond into State Responsibility Areas, but again best effort. Ambulance providers, contracted to a LEMSA, do have a duty to respond. I know of just a couple fire department ambulance providers in California that have performance requirements in ambulance provider contracts (not just response times, but auto-aid, staffing, etc). So the question is should a big box retailer (the Ace Hardware in Sonora, Rays Foods in beautiful downtown Etna) be required to have an AED? Health Clubs in California are but other businesses?, Frankly I don't know of medical facilities that are required to have AED's or even Defibs. I don't know of any lawsuits, but I have heard more than one 911 center refuses to even take AED data to notify callers that an AED is on site, they are afraid of litigation?? Maybe the EMS folks need to get their act together before we make Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Best Buy install AED's
Richard Macaluso Richard Macaluso Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:24:45 AM Time to take it to federal Supreme court, this matter needs to be settled, They can afford thousands on checkout's the don't even open, but they can't spend a Grand on an AED? sum it up in 2 impolite words ... FUCK THEM..... I have a heart condition and with more and more cities going code yellow and red (reserve ems units and or no ems units) that is bullshit from the Humane point of view and also negligent homicide because a device is available to save lives and they are not making use of it. Every store that does not have one I will NOT spend a dime at. They should be charged with negligent homicide in my books. You cannot have a first aid program without one. Smallest of stores in Canada have them by choice because they save lives. There are issues with some stores not having trained personal on hand but I am certified and usually a face in the crowd is. That issue should be addressed but if the small stores are having them those that waste money on resources they don't use should have them as well.
Ian R Frankel Ian R Frankel Wednesday, June 25, 2014 4:32:27 AM Lawyers 1, common sense 0.
George Yaworski George Yaworski Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:31:17 AM Though not required, it could be a benefit to employees to have one in the first aid room, with the aging workforce, many Canadian companies have an AED on site, and some have even used it.
Skip Kirkwood Skip Kirkwood Wednesday, June 25, 2014 8:16:51 AM Good legal question - enforceable requirement, or just good practice? Courts are reluctant to create unfunded mandates absent clear legislative mandate.

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