Posted on 11/01/2013

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief in the California Supreme Court case of Michael Verdugo vs. Target Corporation (Case No. S207313). In addition, David Belkin, a cardiac arrest survivor and member of the SCA Foundation Board of Directors, filed a related affidavit. Following is the text of the brief and affidavit.

Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Plaintiffs and Appellants


By way of background information, sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S. About 1,000 people (359,400 annually) experience SCA outside hospitals each day, and, on average, only 10 percent of victims survive.[i]

Those who do survive invariably were treated quickly with defibrillators. Early defibrillation is the most effective known intervention for restoring cir-culation after SCA. For every minute that passes between collapse and defib-rillation, survival rates decrease 7-10%.[ii]

AEDs Mean the Difference Between Life and Death

The use of AEDs by bystanders accomplishes the earliest possible defibrillation (outside of wearable or implanted defibrillators). For this reason, well over one million AEDs have been deployed in the U.S. for use by emergency responders and laypersons in public locations such as airports, schools and workplaces.

The critical importance of prompt AED use is well-documented. For example, a prospective multi-center clinical trial demonstrated that survival rates increase to nearly 40 percent when bystanders intervene quickly by giving CPR and using AEDs before EMS arrives at the scene.[iii] And, as reported recently on NBC Nightly News, survival rates in one city (Rochester, Minnesota) now approach 60%, thanks to rapid use of AEDs by police officers.[iv]

AEDs Are Safe, Effective and Reliable

A vast body of clinical research convincingly shows that AEDs are safe, effective, and reliable. For example, the Public Access Defibrillation trial, a prospective clinical study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that “AEDs have an exceptionally high safety profile when used by trained lay responders.” Investigators from multiple centers reported there were no inappropriate shocks and no failures to shock when indicated.[v] Another NIH-funded study that looked at the use of AEDs in the home also found there were no inappropriate shocks.[vi] Similarly, research conducted in Chicago area airports determined that AEDs were used safely and effectively by untrained lay responders.[vii] Another study found that even untrained sixth graders could use AEDs effectively.[viii]

Our Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Network is a testament to the fact that rapid use of AEDs can mean the difference between life and death.  Nearly all survivors in our network were treated quickly with AEDs. The attached Affidavit of David Belkin illustrates how an AED saved his life.

We respectfully request that the Court consider this information in the Verdugo vs. Target case.

Respectfully submitted this 31st day of October, 2013.


Affidavit of David Belkin, Esq.

Before me, the undersigned notary public, personally appeared DAVID BELKIN, who, after being duly sworn, declares the following under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States:

  1. My name is DAVID BELKIN. I am over the age of twenty-one years and am in all ways competent to make this affidavit.
  2. On Sunday morning, February 18, 2007, I was playing a pick-up game of basketball in the gym of Lakeview Elementary School in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, not far from my mountain home.
  3. It was three days after my 65th birthday.  Nine days before, I was given a clean bill of health from my internist. I did not know the guys I was playing with, except for my son-in-law and a friend of his.
  4. Suddenly, while playing and without any warning, I collapsed on the court. One of the guys I was playing with told me that he rushed over to me immediately, felt for a pulse, and could not find any. He told me as he was unbuttoning my shirt when I started to turn blue. He told one of the fellow players that there was an AED somewhere in this school and instructed him to please find it as soon as possible.
  5. Another guy called 911 and my rescuer started to give me CPR chest compressions while another breathed air into my lungs. (This latter protocol has since been changed by the American Heart Association as being not needed; and that only chest compressions should be applied and, of course, defibrillation if available and needed).
  6. After about two minutes of chest compressions, the individual who had gone to look for the AED arrived with it and my volunteer rescuer opened the case, deployed it on my chest and applied the electrical charge to get my heart started. He told me that my heart started right after the first charge was applied. My heart started to pump even before the EMT crew got there. Against my protestations (since I did not know what happened), the EMT crew took me to the local hospital.
  7. I am happy to say that I suffered no temporary or permanent damage because the AED got my heart pumping so quickly. My cardiologist informed me that I was very fortunate to have an AED present and utilized so quickly. He further informed me that since I had no plaque buildup in and around my heart arteries, that my problem was not plumbing but electrical.
  8. Three days after this event my cardiologist implanted an internal defibrillator which I have attached to my heart to this day. I am convinced that but for the immediate use of the AED, I would either not be alive or would have suffered some form of permanent brain damage from the extended period of the lack of oxygen to my brain.
  9. I have had no negative effects on my health from that event of almost seven years ago because of the fast actions of my rescuers to whom I am forever grateful. For this reason, I believe that AEDs should be as widely available as possible.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed this 30th day of October, 2013 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

For case timeline, click here.