Florida Supreme Court Narrowly Limits AED Immunity Protections and Finds There May be a Duty to Use School-Based AEDs

Florida Supreme Court Narrowly Limits AED Immunity Protections and Finds There May be a Duty to Use School-Based AEDs

The Florida Supreme Court, in a decision handed down on April 2, 2015, denied AED Good Samaritan immunity protection to the Lee County School District (Florida) and said a jury trial should decide whether the District had an obligation to use a nearby automated external defibrillator (AED) on a fallen student. This case highlights the limited protections available under AED immunity laws in most states and the potential risk implications for AED programs. 

In finding a potential duty to use an available AED, this case diverges from a line of other cases finding that health clubs, a sports arena, a manufacturing plant and other types of organizations have no such duty.  Here, the court’s rationale for allowing a jury to decide whether a duty to use an AED exists is based on the school/student relationship which it found differs from the relationship involving individuals voluntarily visiting businesses.  This result has significant implications for the more than 1,000 Florida high school and middle school athletic programs and potentially for many thousands of schools in other states.  This case highlights the need for schools to put careful thought into how their AED programs are set up and operated and into the written policies that guide these programs.

-Richard Lazar, Readiness Systems

Member, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Advisory Council

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