Update: Retailers, Employers could you be held liable?

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Earlier this month we posted an article about a lawsuit in California that may have significant impact on retailers and other business owners. Here is an update on the appeal by the family of the woman who died at the Target store in Pico Rivera. The family appealed the decision to dismiss the lawsuit against Target to the 9th District Court. The judges referred the case to the California Supreme Court saying that they should provide guidance on demands that all retailers should have defibrillators for customer emergencies.

The 9th Circuit Court judges certified the following question to the California Supreme Court:

“In what circumstances, if ever, does the common law duty of a commercial property owner to provide emergency first aid to invitees require the availability of an AED for cases of sudden cardiac arrest?”

Even though it was referred to the California Supreme Court for guidance, Judge Harry Pregerson said he would have revived the Verdugos’ complaint. In his dissent to referring it to the higher court he wrote, “Because of the reasonable foreseeability that a Pico Rivera Target customer could suffer sudden cardiac arrest, the insignificant burden of acquiring an AED and training employees on how to use the simple device, and the virtual certainty of death if an AED is not used within minutes of the onset of sudden cardiac arrest, the Pico Rivera Target had a duty to have available an AED in its store.”

He further wrote, “The majority refers the question to the California Supreme Court. I believe that in the circumstances of this case, the California common law duty for a business to provide emergency first aid to its invitees requires the availability of an AED for cases of sudden cardiac arrest. Thus, I would reverse the district court’s dismissal of the complaint against Target and remand for further proceedings.”

So we will continue to keep an eye on this and we will see how it plays out in the higher court. Read the news release on the 9th Circuit Court’s decision and read our original post for additional information.


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