New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed “Janet’s Law,” which requires New Jersey public and non-public schools to have an automated external defibrillator (AED), to train school officials and coaches on the use of AEDs, and to establish emergency action plans for responding to sudden cardiac events. The law also requires that the mandated AEDs be maintained in accordance with the previously passed law on AED acquisition and maintenance (section 3 of P.L. 1999, C.34 (C.2A:62A-25)). Janet’s Law will take effect on September 1, 2014 and effects schools that include grades kindergarten through 12.
We believe this law sets a new standard for schools, and will lead to additional claims against schools and school districts that are not in compliance with the law. We note that previous versions of the law were more detailed and expansive, and called for AEDs at youth recreational facilities and camps as well as the education of students on various health topics. The new legislation makes clear that the standard for AEDs is now different for youth recreational facilities and camps as opposed to public and non-public schools.
Janet’s Law imposes an additional burden on elementary, middle and high schools. However, AEDs are already required in many large places of public accommodation, such as airports and healh clubs, and have been proven to be effective tool in saving lives during sudden cardiac events. Prudent underwriters should inquire in the application process and pre-risk surveys about the presence of AEDs at schools located in New Jersey that they insure.