California Supreme Court

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California Supreme Court holds that businesses are not required to keep AEDs on premises

June 23, 2014

Court held that Target has no duty to install and maintain AEDs.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

November 04, 2013

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber urged the Supreme Court of California to reject Plaintiffs’ attempt to require California businesses to have and maintain Automated External Defibrillators (“AED”) on their premises. The Chamber explained that every business has a strong incentive to provide its customers with a safe environment when they visit the premises. Businesses understand that in order to keep the customers they have, and attract new ones, the businesses must ensure that their premises do not create unreasonable risks. However, businesses are open to all customers, and some of those customers have a variety of unknown medical conditions that have the potential to create an emergency. In such instances, clear and longstanding California law requires businesses to promptly contact first responders in the case of a customer medical emergency.

Plaintiffs’ effort to create a new duty for California businesses to provide emergency medical treatment themselves - in the form of AEDs in this case, but potentially by other means in future cases - would be a drastic and potentially dangerous departure from settled law. If adopted, this proposed rule would work a sea change in premises liability, for it would portend a duty to prepare for, recognize, and treat a health risk that the property owner did not create. Property owners and their employees are not trained to assess medical emergencies or make a judgment regarding what emergency treatment is necessary. And because California would stand alone in deploying tort law to establish virtually a new medical insurance system, California’s business would suffer a competitive disadvantage.

Fred A Rowley, Jr. and John P. Mittelbach of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP represented the U.S. Chamber and the American Tort Reform Association as counsel.

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