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Jabo v. YMCA of San Diego County (2018)

September 28, 2018

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In a precedent-setting case involving landowner liability, Horvitz & Levy LLP obtained a published opinion in favor of defendant YMCA, thereby avoiding plaintiffs’ claims for millions of dollars in wrongful death damages.

The family of a man who died of sudden cardiac arrest while playing soccer on defendant’s premises filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that defendant had a duty to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on decedent. The trial court granted summary judgment for defendant, ruling that defendant owed no common law or statutory duty to the decedent to use an AED.

The California Court of Appeal (Fourth District, Division One) affirmed 2-1 in a lengthy published opinion by Justice Huffman, with Justice Aaron dissenting. The court held that defendant owed no duty to use an AED on an adult who was a permissive user of defendant’s premises under a rental agreement with a private soccer league. The court held that although defendant owes a statutory duty to its members to acquire and maintain AEDs and train its staff on proper AED use, it did not owe this same duty to a non-member participating in a private soccer league. And the court concluded that the YMCA owed no common law duty to the plaintiff because athletes assume the risk of cardiac arrest during strenuous activities, and businesses that voluntarily acquire and maintain AEDs “should not be penalized” by imposing a common law duty in addition to any statutory duty.

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