In Miglino v. Bally Total Fitness of Greater New York, New York’s High Court addressed the issue of whether General Business Law §627-a creates an independent duty to use automated external defibrillators (“AEDs”) in the face of a medical emergency. By way of background, GBL §627-a requires health clubs to have AEDs and employees trained and certified in their use. In Miglino, New York’s highest court held that this statute does not create any such duty and exonerated a health club and its certified employee for failing to use the club’s AED in the face of a cardiac event.
The Court of Appeals recognized the statute’s limitation of liability when health clubs and their agents voluntarily provide aid to their members and determined that the legislature did not intend to impose liability on health clubs for failing to use their AEDs. Moreover, the Court noted that to hold otherwise would spawn a whole new field of tort litigation and create increased costs, uncertainty and difficulty for health clubs.
In addition, the Court of Appeals emphasized that the common law imposed only a limited duty on health clubs during a medical emergency. The common law only requires that health clubs call 911 and provide basic CPR or defer to an individual with medical experience.