California Court Rules That Large Retailers Don’t Have To Provide In-Store Defibrillators

Sometimes having an automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand can make the difference between life and death, in the case of a cardiac emergency. But while one family sued Target for not having such a device around when a woman suffered a heart attack and died in a California store, the state’s highest court says large retailers are not required to carry defibrillators in case of a medical emergency.

The Supreme Court in California upheld lower courts’ decisions and ruled unanimously that retailers like Target don’t have to keep an AED inside the store, siding with Target in a wrongful death lawsuit a woman’s family brought against it after the woman died in a store in 2008, reports Reuters.

The family had pointed to a state health code statute requiring gyms and “health studios” to make AEDs available. But the court doesn’t think Target falls under that umbrella.

“We conclude that, under California law, Target’s common law duty of care to its customers does not include a duty to acquire and make available an AED for use in a medical emergency,” the six-judge panel wrote in an opinion on Monday.

The lawsuit alleged that Target had a common law duty to have first aid available for its customers, pointing out that Target itself sells AEDs on its site for $1,200.

“The inexpensive availability of AEDs and their ease of use with even minimal or no advance training have led to on-site CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED assistance to now be an expected part of first aid response,” the family’s complaint said.

Target released a statement after the decision, writing that it’s pleased with the court’s decision and that “the safety and security of our guests and team members is our top priority.”

California’s top court says Target not required to carry in-store defibrillators [Reuters]

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