The risk of heart attack following strenuous exercise is well recognized and the use of defibrillators can be particularly effective if administered in the first few minutes after the cardiac episode commences. General Business Law § 627-a requires health clubs with 500 members or more to have a defibrillator along with a trained operator to use it. Lay responders are often able to use the device with little or no training.
In a recent decision by the Appellate Division Second Department, health clubs now have an affirmative duty to use the defibrillator in an emergency. The Court of Appeals previously held that although General Business Law § 627-a requires that defibrillators be present along with a trained operator, there is no affirmative duty to use the device. Generally speaking, a person does not owe a duty to assist a person in peril. Nevertheless, in Miglino v. Bally Total Fitness of Greater New York, 06556-2010, the Appellate Division held that since the statute requires health clubs to have defibrillators and someone trained to use it, health clubs may be liable for not using it in an emergency.