California court upholds judgment in wrongful death suit against YMCA over AED usage

By Mary Ann Magnell | Oct 10, 2018

SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – A California appeals court affirmed that a superior court’s judgment “correctly declined to impose an additional common law duty of care” that would require the defendant and the respondent YMCA of San Diego County to provide hands-on usage instruction of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to its employees.

The Sept. 28 judgment filed within the 4th Appellate District, Division One appeals court decision was written by Judge Richard D. Huffman and stated that if more stringent personnel practices were applied, this would effectively treat its “regular and part-time employees like amateur paramedics in this context.”  

The filing also noted that the respondent’s purchase and maintenance of AEDs in its outdoor fields “should not be penalized” by instituting these increased stringent practices, which could be increasingly burdensome to facilities that have an on-hand device for medical emergencies.    

The decision was made in response to a wrongful death complaint against the defendant and respondent filed by the plaintiffs: members of the Jabo family, whose 43-year-old husband and father, Adeal Jabo, died in July 2016 of a sudden cardiac arrest after he had been playing soccer at the facility with the Over 40 Chaldean Soccer League of San Diego. 

The lawsuits were filed under statutes § 104113—duty of health studio to provide AED—as well as § 1714.21, otherwise known as the “Good Samaritan” defense in its rendering of emergency care in use of an AED at the scene of an emergency.  

The plaintiffs sought damages, according to the filing, on theories of ordinary and gross negligence arising from alleged violations of statutory and common law duties, based on Jabo’s status as a League member using the facility’s field. 

The plaintiffs had alleged that “although one of respondent’s part-time employees was assigned to serve as scorekeeper for the League’s games that evening, he was away from the field at the moment that Jabo collapsed and did not bring one of the five AED devices it had required for the field,” the ruling states.

The defendant had admitted that “its failure to schedule the League games on its regular AED checkout list was due to a staff mistake arising from the private rental status of the League,” according to the ruling.

State of California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One: D072613

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