Your readers may be interested in the latest ruling in Fowler v. Bally Total
Fitness. (See www.w-g-law.com/cases.) Gary Fowler was my 46-year-old brother who died of sudden cardiac arrest in November 2005 at a Montgomery County Bally Total Fitness.
In January 2005, the Montgomery County Council passed an ordinance requiring AEDs
in fitness centers. None of the Bally clubs in Montgomery County had AEDs at the
time of my brother's death. Finally, some pretty strong language about a fitness center's duty to have AEDs on hand.
The Court found that the waiver and release did not bar a claim for gross
negligence, stating that, “Plaintiff has more than met her burden of demonstrating
gross negligence on the part of Bally in refusing to maintain or deploy an AED at
its Gaithersburg, Maryland facility....” Even where there was no statutory obligation
to do so, Judge Egan stated that, "This Court cannot discern any logical reason why Bally would not employ AEDs at its Gaithersburg facilities, considering it was already obligated to deploy AEDs throughout the rest of Montgomery County. Such action on the part of Bally smacks of indifference to the welfare of its patrons... There is no denying the fact that Bally knew with 100% certainty that dozens of its members would suffer heart attacks and die each year, and instead of pursuing a relatively cheap and easy solution to the problem through the deployment of AEDs at its health facilities, Bally chose to consciously disregard this known risk. That strikes this Court as the very definition of gross negligence."