The Public Heath Law requires health clubs with 500 or more members to have an Automated External Defibrillator [“AED”], “a portable medical device for delivery of an electroshock to restart normal heart rhythm,” on the premises. In addition, those clubs must have “at least one individual performing employment or individual acting as an authorized volunteer who holds valid authorization of completion of a course of study in the operation of AEDs and a valid certification of the completion of a course in the training of [CPR] provided by a nationally-recognized organization or association.”

In Miglino v. Bally Total Fitness of Greater N.Y., when a member collapsed on the premises a personal trainer learned of the medical emergency and alerted the receptionist to call “911.” The receptionist brought an AED to the collapsed member’s side. Although the trainer present was certified in AED and CPR, he did not start CPR or use the AED. Instead, two club members, a doctor and a medical student, administered CPR. Upon arriving, the ambulance personnel administered shocks through the AED, but the member did not survive.

The Court of Appeals held that the various relevant statutes did not create an affirmative duty for health clubs to use the AEDs. The Court noted that “[a] law that mandates the presence of AEDs and trained individuals at health clubs is easy to obey and enforceable.” Nevertheless, the Court held that the law “does not create a duty running from a health club to its members to use an AED required by [law] to be maintained on site.” The Court held that “[t]he implied duty [to use the AED] would engender a whole new field of tort litigation saddling health clubs with new costs and generating uncertainty.”

Miglino v. Bally Total Fitness of Greater N.Y., Inc., 2013 NY Slip Op 00780 [20 NY3d 342] (February 7, 2013).