California Law says No AED’s Required for Private Businesses

Blog No AEDs

Re: No AEDs Required

The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court last week issued an opinion that California law, both its statutes and its court case law, does not require private businesses, even stores as large as Target’s, to have available Automatic External Defibrillators (“AEDs”). So far, only Oregon has passed a law requiring businesses larger than 50,000 square feet to have them available for use on customers and employees. On the other hand, one of the appellate justices made an eloquent, passionate, and persuasive argument why the state legislature should pass such a law.

Do not rush out and buy AEDs for your businesses. California, along with several other states, has passed a variation of the “good Samaritan law,” providing immunity against liability for injuries in connection with the use of an AED, but only if quite a few procedures were followed. The AED must be professionally tested annually. It must be in-house tested monthly. Enough employees must be trained regarding proper use of the AED so that one employee who knows how to use it is always on duty. Brochures must be given to employees and tenants, describing the AED and disclosing where it is located.

The California Supreme Court analyzed the case according to parameters established in the landmark case of Rowland v. Christian in 1968. These are the same rules for imposing a new duty on businesses that I have written about previously regarding liability for injuries caused by criminals in shopping center and apartment parking areas. One of those tests is to balance the burden of a proposed safety measure against the risk of harm the safety measure is supposed to cure and the likelihood of it doing so successfully. The Supreme Court reviewed the procedures listed above, required to qualify for the immunity. Notwithstanding the modest cost of buying an AED, less than $2000.00 each, the procedures described above were held to be sufficiently burdensome that the Supreme Court held that the burden exceeded the likely benefit.

California already has AEDs in many government run buildings and requires them in fitness clubs and gyms. After this case and the concurring opinion by the federal appellate justice, a bill to require them in most businesses, probably larger businesses, is inevitable. Because of the burdens required in order to qualify for statutory immunity, such a bill is unlikely to pass and even more unlikely to avoid a veto.

So don’t rush out and by AEDs. If you do, be sure to study the requirements for immunity carefully and obey each and every one of them strictly. If you would like help with such a procedure, please call me.