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Date: 09-30-2018

Case Style:

Khalda Jabo v. YMCA of San Diego County

Case Number: D072613

Judge: Huffman

Court: California Court of Appeals Fourth Appellate District Division one on appeal from the Superior Court, San Diego County

Plaintiff's Attorney: Charles S. LiMandri, Paul M. Jonna and Jeffrey M. Trissell

Defendant's Attorney: David M. Axelrad, S. Thomas Todd, Parker Straus and Andrew S. Meyers

Description: Defendant and respondent YMCA of San Diego County (Respondent or the
YMCA) provides a number of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) on its premises,
for the emergency use of its members, employees and users of the premises. (Health &
Saf. Code,1 1797.196, subd. (b) [regulatory scheme when AEDs are provided on
premises].) Plaintiffs and appellants are the Jabo family, whose 43-year-old husband and
father, Adeal Jabo (Jabo) died of sudden cardiac arrest on July 12, 2016, after playing
soccer at an enclosed East County field owned by Respondent and regularly rented to a
private organization of which Jabo was a member, the Over 40 Chaldean Soccer League
of San Diego (the League).2 We are required to consider whether additional statutory or
common law duties were owed by Respondent to ensure that its trained staff members
utilize and apply AEDs under circumstances in which an adult is having an on-site
medical emergency that appears to be sudden cardiac arrest, while the adult is a
permissive user of the facility whose group rented an outdoor portion of Respondent's
sports facilities, a soccer field. ( 104113 [duty of health studio to provide AED]; Civ.
Code, 1714.21, subd. (d) ["Good Samaritan" defense applicable to rendering of
emergency care in use of AED at scene of emergency]; Verdugo v. Target Corp. (2014)
59 Cal.4th 312, 321 (Verdugo).)

1 All further statutory references are to the Health and Safety Code unless noted.
Section 1797.196, subdivision (b) provides that when an entity acquires an AED to
ensure public safety, it shall comply with applicable regulations governing placement,
maintenance and testing of the device, and make appropriate notifications to officials and
to tenants that the device is present at the site. Section 1797.196, subdivision (f) states
that the section, in combination with Civil Code section 1714.21, does not impose a
mandatory duty to obtain AEDs.
2 Chaldeans are an ethnic group of Iraqi origin. Jabo's survivors are referred to
collectively here as "Appellants," including his widow Khalda and his adult and minor
sons, Jacob, Paul, Fraduin, and Ruviail.
In Appellants' wrongful death complaint against Respondent, they seek damages
on theories of ordinary and gross negligence arising from alleged violations of statutory
and common law duties, based on Jabo's status as a League member using the facility's
field. Appellants alleged that although one of Respondent's part-time employees was
assigned to serve as scorekeeper for the League's games that evening, he was away from
the field at the moment that Jabo collapsed and did not bring one of the five AED devices
it had acquired to the field.3 Respondent did not dispute that for its own scheduled
events, its policy was to have one of its staff members check out and bring an AED to the
field. Respondent admits that its failure to schedule the League games on its regular
AED checkout list was due to a staff mistake arising from the private rental status of the
After extensive litigation that included Respondent's filing of an indemnity crosscomplaint
based on a release of liability that Jabo had signed, the trial court ultimately
granted a defense summary judgment on the complaint, finding that the essential element
of duty could not be established by Appellants. (Code Civ. Proc., 437c.) The court
dismissed Respondent's cross-complaint, finding that the release was unenforceable. As
a whole, the ruling tracked the analysis in the leading case of Verdugo, supra,

3 " 'Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may
not have heart disease. The time and mode of death are unexpected. . . . Most cardiac
arrests are due to abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. A common arrhythmia is
ventricular fibrillation, in which the heart's electrical impulses suddenly become chaotic
and ineffective.' " (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th 312, 319.) Where indicated by the
application of the AED mechanism to an unconscious victim, a prompt delivery of an
electrical shock to the heart can greatly improve the chances of survival. (Ibid.)
59 Cal.4th 312, 316-317, in which our Supreme Court held that the existing California
statutory scheme for the acquisition and use of AEDs does not preclude the courts from
making determinations, under common law, on whether additional duties of care to
customers should be imposed on business owners regarding acquisition of AEDs, to be
made available for use by trained staff members or others, when such medical
emergencies arise. (Id. at p. 336, fn. 18 [acquisition includes duty to train, etc.].)
In Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th 312, the court engaged in traditional common law
duty analysis for whether a retail business owes its patrons a duty of reasonable care to
supply AEDs, in which " 'the specific action or actions the plaintiff claims the defendant
had a duty to undertake,' " must be identified. (Id. at p. 337.) In considering whether
such a common law duty should be recognized, "either in general or in particular
circumstances," the courts should take into account existing California AED statutes,
"insofar as such statutes bear on the relevant policy considerations that affect that
determination." (Id. at pp. 334-335.) In Verdugo the court concluded that Target, as a
retailer, did not incur such an obligation pursuant to section 1797.196 or Civil Code
section 1714.21 to take precautionary measures, as distinguished from calling for medical
assistance, in the absence of a showing of heightened foreseeability of the particular risk
at issue. (Verdugo, supra, at pp. 339, 342.) In the course of its analysis, the court noted
that different rules and particular obligations apply to "health (or fitness) studios," in the
form of section 104113.4 (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at pp. 323-324 & fn. 10 [medical
facilities must be equipped with AEDs under separate regulatory requirements; "[h]ealth
studios are currently the only nonmedical setting in which California statutes or
regulations require that AEDs be provided"]; see fns. 17 & 18, post, on recent statutory
additions in other contexts.)
We evaluate Appellants' challenge to the grant of summary judgment to
Respondent in light of the analytical guidance provided by Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th
312. " 'Duty, being a question of law, is particularly amenable to resolution by summary
judgment.' " (Regents of University of California v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 607,
618 (Regents of University of California).) The issues of law presented here are limited
to duty, not causation of injury. Appellants first contend Respondent was operating as a
"health studio" in this instance and pursuant to section 104113, it came under specialized
statutorily owed duties regarding not only the acquisition, but also the actual supply and
application of AEDs. The trial court's ruling included a footnote in which the court
accepted, for purposes of analysis, that Respondent "appears to be a 'health studio' as
defined by section 104113[, subdivision] (h)." To the extent this comment amounts to a

4 For purposes of section 104113, its subdivision (h) defines "health studio" as "a
facility permitting the use of its facilities and equipment or access to its facilities and
equipment, to individuals or groups for physical exercise, body building, reducing, figure
development, fitness training, or any other similar purpose, on a membership basis.
'Health studio' does not include a hotel or similar business that offers fitness facilities to
its registered guests for a fee or as part of the hotel charges." (Italics added.) Section
104113, subdivision (f) provides immunities for use or attempted use of an AED,
provided that no gross negligence or "willful or wanton misconduct" is proven in those
legal conclusion about the nature and extent of Respondent's activities with respect to
Appellants, we disagree. Certainly, the record supports a conclusion that in some aspects
of its activities, Respondent acts in the capacity of a health studio toward its membership,
but in this case, it was renting a field to a nonmember league that did not choose to accept
its membership and regulatory policies, and it did not bring itself within the statutory
definitions applicable to health studios that are required to supply AEDs to ensure the
safety of its members. Appellants do not show that as a matter of law, Respondent's
rental of its field was carried out in such a way as to impose a health studio's statutory
AED installation and training duties upon it.
Next, for purposes of the more generic statutory requirements applicable to
business owners, in this instance operators of sports facilities, we examine the terms of
section 1797.196 and Civil Code section 1714.21. We conclude that as a matter of law,
they do not impose the form of duty proposed by Appellants, to have a facility operator's
employee apply and activate an AED at any location on the premises upon the occurrence
of a medical emergency, even if the operator has acquired and made generally available
such devices to promote the safety of its members and other patrons. The record does not
support a conclusion that other duties exceeding the statutory requirements of section
1797.196 arose for the operator under these circumstances.
We next consider Appellants' alternative common law approaches for establishing
specific duties that were owed under these circumstances. First, they argue Respondent
undertook a specialized duty of care, applicable to its business patron Jabo, by making
" 'manifestation[s] of responsibility to third parties,' " e.g. its members, that were
sufficient to give rise to its duty to have its personnel bring to the site and then apply an
AED, in the event a medical emergency occurred. (Artiglio v. Corning Inc. (1998) 18
Cal.4th 604, 612 (Artiglio).) We cannot agree that the manner in which Respondent
undertook its duties as an operator of sports facilities served to increase the risks of Jabo's
participation in League games. (See Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 296, 316-317
(Knight) [facility owner has limited duty of due care not to increase a sports participant's
risks over and above inherent risks of sport]; Rotolo v. San Jose Sports & Entertainment,
LLC (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 307, 335-336 (Rotolo) [disapprov. in other part in Verdugo,
supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 334, fn. 15].)5
In a further argument, Appellants present well-known common law duty factors
concerning foreseeability and public policy considerations (Rowland v. Christian (1968)
69 Cal.2d 108, 112 (Rowland)), to argue that Respondent incurred a common law duty of
reasonable care to patrons who become ill on its premises, to provide them with first aid

5 In large part, Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at pages 320 and 324 is still good
authority with respect to the duties of an operator of a sports facility. (Verdugo, supra,
59 Cal.4th at pp. 328-329.) However, the court in Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at page
334, footnote 15 expressly disapproved one portion of that analysis, that declared the
body of AED statutes is so detailed and comprehensive as to indicate the Legislature
intended to "occupy the field" as to all regulation of AEDs. (Rotolo, supra, 151
Cal.App.4th at p. 314.) Rather, common law duty analysis is complementary to the
statutory rules in this precise context, and may go beyond the statutes under a proper set
of circumstances. (Verdugo, supra, at pp. 328-329 ["[T]he Legislature, by its enactment
of Civil Code section 1714.21 and Health and Safety Code 1797.196, did not intend to
impose such a duty [to acquire and install an AED] on building owners and managers"
[i.e., the statutory duty is not coextensive with any common law source of duty].].)
assistance that includes its staff members' deployment and appropriate use of an AED.6
In this closely regulated area that provides immunities to encourage the acquisition of
AEDs to protect facilities and employees from liability in the event that they are used in
an emergency, we cannot extend a common law duty, based on factors of public policy
and foreseeability, to cover this category of circumstances, however unfortunate the
result may be in one individual's case. (Cabral v. Ralphs Grocery Co. (2011) 51 Cal.4th
764, 772-774 (Cabral) [common law duty analysis speaks to category of allegedly
negligent conduct, not a particular defendant's individual conduct]; Castaneda v. Olsher
(2007) 41 Cal.4th 1205, 1213 (Castaneda) [balancing of risks and burdens required for
determining if alleged obligations should be imposed].)
Additionally, the enforceability of the release Jabo signed is still being argued on
appeal, as an issue raised in both the amended complaint and the answer.7 The trial court
appropriately decided that the release document was unenforceable. We affirm the
summary judgment.

6 The complete list of duty considerations in Rowland, supra, 69 Cal.2d at page 113,
includes "the foreseeability of harm to the plaintiff, the degree of certainty that the
plaintiff suffered injury, the closeness of the connection between the defendant's conduct
and the injury suffered, the moral blame attached to the defendant's conduct, the policy of
preventing future harm, the extent of the burden to the defendant and consequences to the
community of imposing a duty to exercise care with resulting liability for breach, and the
availability, cost, and prevalence of insurance for the risk involved."
7 Respondent initially cross-appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment to
Appellants on its cross-complaint, deeming the release to be unenforceable. Respondent
then requested dismissal of its cross-appeal, which was granted. We have received
supplemental briefing on the effect of that order of dismissal on the main appeal, and will
discuss it in part II.B, post.
A. Sports League Rental Arrangement; Circumstances of Jabo's Death
In 2012, a group of Chaldean friends created the League, and requested that
Respondent's program director Lynne Allen arrange for its regular rentals of a small,
enclosed, locked "indoor" soccer field, which is actually located outdoors on its premises.
The League explained to Allen that it did not want to comply with Respondent's policy
that to qualify as one of Respondent's sponsored sports rentals, it must supply a list of its
members and an updated game schedule. The League also disagreed with Respondent's
nondiscrimination policy that would not allow restrictions on League participation to
over-40 Chaldeans.
After some negotiations, Respondent agreed to rent the field to the League on a
private basis, for four successive 12-week seasons each year, for which Respondent's
staff would provide limited weekly evening access, lighting, the use of soccer balls, and
an employee scorekeeper. For the next few years, the League paid Respondent $2,550 at
the beginning of each 12-week season. There were about 45 to 60 members of the
League, who each paid it a quarterly season fee of about $75 to $90. Only some of the
League members also formally joined Respondent as members, as a separate transaction
was required. One of League's over-40 members, Kamal Sadiq, who spoke Arabic, was
also a part-time employee of Respondent and was assigned as its employee scorekeeper
for the games.
As part of the rental agreement, the League undertook to have its members sign
liability releases, in a form provided by Respondent, in return for access to the facilities
and equipment. This "facility waiver form" acknowledged that the signer understood the
refund and transfer policies. Jabo did not know much English, and he signed a portion of
the release after Sadiq explained it to him in Arabic and indicated where he should sign,
which was in the section releasing liability for any injuries to his minor children, except
for gross negligence or willful misconduct. Jabo did not sign the portion of the form
intended to obtain releases from adults.
On the evening of July 12, 2016, the League had final games scheduled. Sadiq
clocked into work, opened the field and supplied two soccer balls, an electronic
scorekeeping device, and a first aid kit. He was under the impression that because the
League was a private renter of the field, its games were not official YMCA events placed
on the AED checkout schedule, and thus he was not required to check out one of the five
AEDs owned by the facility. Sadiq had not yet been trained in AED use, although he had
been working part time for Respondent about two years and had brought one to youth
soccer games that he was assigned to referee.
Before the 7:30 p.m. game started, Jabo was playing soccer with other League
members and was doing well. Between games, Sadiq went to the restroom. Jabo
finished playing and went over to the bleachers. Suddenly, he collapsed and hit his head
on a bleacher bench. League members immediately started helping him and at 7:23 p.m.,
one of them called 911 to report that he had apparently had a stroke. Jabo was
unresponsive and turning blue. Another member began cardiopulmonary resuscitation
(CPR), as instructed by the 911 operator.
When Sadiq came out of the restroom, he found a chaotic situation of a League
member performing CPR on Jabo, while another one was on the phone with 911 and a lot
of yelling and praying was going on. A League member witness remembered that Sadiq
was "in the mix" of people trying to help. Sadiq heard that an ambulance had been called
and ran to the parking lot to direct it to the right area, as there were multiple points of
access to the field. Sadiq was shocked and not thinking straight, and did not call the front
desk to report what was happening, even though the facility's emergency procedures
required him to do so. A qualified staff member with access to an AED was stationed at
the front desk at the time.
Six minutes after the 911 call, paramedics arrived and attempted to resuscitate
Jabo. He died at a hospital emergency room shortly thereafter.8
B. Litigation and Ruling
Appellants filed their complaint on September 13, 2016 and obtained preferential
trial setting because one of the sons is a minor. As relevant here, the pleading describes

8 Appellants' separate statement listed as additional disputed facts that Jabo had a
pre-existing heart condition, including the installation of stents, but his doctor encouraged
him to exercise and thus he likely would have survived if he had received proper
emergency care from Respondent's employee. These allegations were hotly disputed by
Respondent. They pertain to causation of injury and we need not discuss them, since
only the legal issue of duty is before us. We also note that the duty analysis here relates
to allegations about the two related rescue functions, performing CPR in connection with
supplying an available AED for use. (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 320, fn. 3 [CPR is
a critical component of a successful AED program].)
the League's rental of the enclosed soccer field, and the arrangement for Respondent to
supply a scorekeeper. Appellants incorporated into their pleading allegations about the
terms of Respondent's various guidelines for the use of its AEDs, as tools that can
significantly increase the survival rate of adult cardiac arrest victims.9 Appellants refer
to Respondent's administrative manual and its 2012 medical advisory committee
recommendations to allege that it knew about the importance of emergency procedures
and use of AEDs to increase survival rates, in part because users of the facility are likely
to be "at greater risk due to vigorous exercises and the size of the physical spaces
between the various facilities." For purposes of their gross negligence claim, they alleged
Respondent recklessly abandoned those internal policies and procedures, thus giving a
false impression that it was acting responsibly and in conformity with industry standards.
In particular, Appellants contend that although Sadiq understood he was supposed
to bring an AED to youth soccer games that he was assigned to referee, he had not been
trained in CPR or using an AED. As conceded by Respondent, Sadiq did not bring an
AED to League games because he understood they were not YMCA events, and they had
not been placed on the schedule for checking out such devices. The field was around 600
feet away from the front desk, where Respondent keeps an AED. Sadiq was the only
employee at the soccer field, and did not have a back up for when he went to the
restroom, which is when Jabo collapsed. Since Sadiq did not use an AED the day Jabo

9 Appellants' pleading refers to 2012 statistics from the American Heart Association
that showed about 295,000 instances of sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals
each year in this country, but only eight percent of these victims survive, although some
40 percent could potentially be saved with greater use of AEDs.
died, Appellants preemptively pled Respondent was not entitled to assert any kind of
immunity for such "use," within the terms of section 104113, subdivision (d) (health
studios) or other relevant emergency aid statutes.10
Respondent brought several demurrers and eventually answered the second
amended complaint. Extensive discovery battles took place, and Respondent filed its
summary judgment motion on the complaint. Appellants filed a cross-summary
judgment motion on the cross-complaint to determine that the release was unenforceable,
since it was signed in the wrong place. Extremely lengthy separate statements were
submitted by both Appellants and Respondent, out of the 3,600 pages of documentation
filed for the cross-motions. Each side lodged numerous exhibits about Respondent's
safety policies and procedures, the release, and deposition excerpts from witnesses about
the events of the day and the League rental arrangements. Declarations were submitted
from Respondent's employees Sadiq and its program director Allen, and Appellants

10 Where a health studio has complied with all administrative regulations under
section 104113, subdivision (e) for the placement, training, registration and notifications
about AEDs, subdivision (d) of that section provides the studio with immunity from
liability for damages resulting from an employee's act or omission in the course of
rendering emergency care or treatment with the AED. Pursuant to section 1797.196,
subdivision (f), other types of businesses are not required to acquire an AED to promote
public safety. (See Civ. Code, 1714.21, subd. (b) [immunity for a person's good faith
use of an AED]; subd. (d)(1) [immunity from liability for an entity "resulting from any
acts or omissions in the rendering of the emergency care by use of an AED if that person
or entity has complied with subdivision (b) of Section 1797.196," the installation and
maintenance requirements].)
supplied declarations from their expert consultants in the field of safety procedures for
sports facilities.11
Both motions were heard in June 2017. Appellants relied on a fitness expert's
declaration to argue that triable issues of fact remained on whether Respondent was
acting as a health studio, since it had purchased and maintained AEDs and created
policies for training employees in their use. Respondent suggested to the court that it
could resolve this case under existing law, without the need for an express determination
on whether it qualifies as a health studio under section 104113, subdivision (h). (E.g.,
1797.196.) Appellants' request for a continuance for further discovery was denied.
(Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (h).) The trial court granted Respondent's request to take
judicial notice of legislative history materials for section 104113, pertaining to the
obligation of health studios operating on a membership basis to provide AEDs.12 (Evid.
Code, 452, subd. (c).)

11 Appellants' fitness expert, Anthony Abbott, an exercise physiologist, stated in his
declaration, "There is a high degree of foreseeability of sudden cardiac arrest at health
studios, including YMCAs, that can be effectively remedied by adhering to the standards
of practice for health clubs, including the use of an AED." Respondent's objection to this
statement was overruled but its other objections to his views were sustained (e.g., that
Respondent's "failure to create an AED policy for its entire facility was problematic"; or
that its conduct was an "extreme departure from the ordinary standard of care" applicable
when a YMCA "permit[s] the use of their facilities and equipment to individuals or
groups for physical exercise . . . or any other similar purpose, on a membership basis."
12 Respondent has renewed and added to its request to take judicial notice of
legislative history materials for section 104113, to include 2010 amendments. Appellants
have not opposed the request and it was deferred to this panel. The request is granted, as
will be discussed in part III. A, post. (Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Superior Court (2010)
191 Cal.App.4th 210, 223, fn. 6.)
The trial court's lengthy order granting Respondent's motion explains the extensive
procedural background, evidentiary objections and judicial notice requests, and applies
the statutory scheme for AEDs to this set of facts. Although the briefs on appeal do not
discuss the aspect of the trial court's ruling that excluded some evidence from one of
Appellants' expert witnesses, Michael Spezzano, because of discovery abuse, the record
shows that during his deposition, the parties tangled about whether Respondent qualifies
as a health studio within the meaning of the statute. This witness, a former YMCA
national health and fitness consultant, filed a clarification of his deposition testimony to
say "I am not qualified (and was not retained) to opine on legal questions, such as
whether the YMCA is a 'health studio' for purposes of the California Health and Safety
Code. I will re-emphasize, however, that YMCAs offer many of the same services as
traditional health clubs - as well as additional services." He also stated that in his view,
"[Respondent's trial attorney] handled my deposition abusively; he failed to allow me to
provide full and complete answers; and his intimidating tone and conduct caused me to
become confused." "As a result, much of my testimony unfortunately must be corrected.
In addition, due to the manner in which my deposition was conducted (as a cross
examination instead of a discovery deposition), [defense counsel] was unable to elicit my
full and complete opinions in this case." The ruling concluded, "With regard to the
Spezzano deposition, the court agrees with plaintiffs and with the discovery referee that
the entire original deposition is useless for any purpose, having been irretrievably tainted
by discovery abuse. The court imposes an evidentiary sanction."13 However,
Spezzano's declaration was considered.
For its conclusion that Respondent did not have a duty to use an AED under the
requirements of section 104113, the ruling cited to evidence about the League's private
rental arrangement for the soccer field and noted that Respondent "appears to be a health
studio, as defined by section 104113, subdivision (h)." Ultimately, the court concluded
that Respondent had no common law or other statutory duty to ensure that its staff
member utilize an AED as alleged, such that the ordinary negligence cause of action was
not sustainable. ( 1797.196; Civ. Code, 1714.21.) The gross negligence allegations
were likewise not found to be substantiated, for lack of a showing of existing malice or
conscious disregard of the rights of others.
On Appellants' cross-motion, the court ruled they were entitled to summary
judgment on the cross-complaint for the reason that the release was invalidly executed,
such that no properly instructed jury could find it was enforceable. (See fn. 7, ante;
cross-appeal of the ruling disposing of the cross-complaint has been dismissed.)
Appellants challenge the summary judgment on their complaint.

13 In two separate rulings, the trial court sustained in part and overruled in part other
evidentiary objections brought by each side. On appeal, the parties have not contested
any of these evidentiary rulings, or explained their significance to the issues presented.
A. Review of Summary Judgment
To obtain summary judgment, a moving defendant must show that the plaintiffs'
cause of action has no merit, e.g., that plaintiffs cannot establish one or more of the
elements of their cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., 437c, subd. (p)(2); Aguilar v.
Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850 (Aguilar).) The burden then shifts to
the plaintiffs to show that there are existing triable issues of material fact as to the cause
of action or a defense. (Ibid.)
"On review of an order granting or denying summary judgment, we examine the
facts presented to the trial court and determine their effect as a matter of law." (Parsons
v. Crown Disposal Co. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 456, 464 (Parsons).) The record is reviewed de
novo, considering all the evidence set forth in the moving and opposition papers except
that to which objections have been made and sustained. (Guz v. Bechtel National, Inc.
(2000) 24 Cal.4th 317, 334.) The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the
opposing party, by resolving any evidentiary doubts or ambiguities in its favor. (Saelzler
v. Advanced Group 400 (2001) 25 Cal.4th 763, 768; see Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th 826,
856 [opposing plaintiff's evidence construed for what it could show or imply to
reasonable trier of fact].)
Independent review of a summary judgment is not limited to determining whether
there is a triable issue of material fact justifying trial on the merits. Appellants'
negligence suit required proof of duty, breach, causation, and damages. (Conroy v.
Regents of University of California (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1244, 1250.) Their theory of gross
negligence is based on policy considerations "that harsher legal consequences should
flow when negligence is aggravated instead of merely ordinary." (City of Santa Barbara
v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal.4th 747, 776.) For either of these formulations of
negligence, the question of whether a defendant owes the plaintiffs a duty of care is one
of law to be decided by the court, and is amenable to resolution by summary judgment.
(Regents of University of California, supra, 4 Cal.5th 607, 618.)
Interpretation and application of a statutory scheme to an established set of facts
will be treated as questions of law which are subject to de novo review on appeal.
(Weatherford v. City of San Rafael (2017) 2 Cal.5th 1241, 1247; Blue v. City of Los
Angeles (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 1131, 1140.) This appellate court is not bound by the
trial court's statutory interpretation. (Ibid.; California Teachers Assn. v. San Diego
Community College Dist. (1981) 28 Cal.3d 692, 699.) Although the trial court set forth
extensive legal reasoning in its written ruling, on de novo review of this record, its
particular theory of decision is illuminating but not controlling. (D'Amico v. Board of
Medical Examiners (1974) 11 Cal.3d 1, 18-19.)
B. Essential Issues for Decision; Release Not Enforceable
Before discussing the various formulations of duty argued here, we first seek to
clarify that this record does not require us to decide this case on the basis of any binding
effect of the release document that Jabo signed, which Appellants contend was invalid.
The release referred to his signature as granting consideration for his children being
permitted to participate in Respondent's programs, and to his agreement to its refund
policies. In its ruling addressing Appellants' cross-motion, the court determined that by
its own clear terms, the release could apply only to minor children while they were
participating in Respondent's activities or while on its premises. Respondent could not
show that Jabo had agreed to the other terms below his signature, pertaining to adults,
and all the cross-complaint's interrelated allegations about entitlement to contractual or
other indemnification were unsubstantiated. Accordingly, the cross-complaint failed and
was ordered dismissed. As already stated, Respondent requested that we dismiss its
cross-appeal and it is no longer before us.
Respondent's brief nevertheless continues to argue the enforceability of the
release, characterizing it as an issue encompassed by the complaint and various
affirmative defenses in the answer. We have received reply, supplemental and surreply
briefing on whether the grant of Respondent's motion to dismiss its appeal of the crosscomplaint
summary judgment has collateral estoppel or retraxit effect upon the issues
resolved by the summary judgment, as to the complaint. (Alpha Mechanical, Heating &
Air Conditioning, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. of America (2005) 133
Cal.App.4th 1319, 1331-1332 [dismissal with prejudice has finality for purposes of
affirmative defenses, etc.].) Respondent takes the position that there was no binding
ruling to disallow its current arguments that it was entitled to summary judgment, for
reasons that include Jabo's execution of the release.
Collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, "prohibits the relitigation of issues argued
and decided in a previous case, even if the second suit raises different causes of action.
[Citation.] Under issue preclusion, the prior judgment conclusively resolves an issue
actually litigated and determined in the first action," as long as it is asserted against a
party to the first lawsuit or one in privity with a party. (DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber
(2015) 61 Cal.4th 813, 824.) The party asserting such a defense bears the burden of
establishing the requirements of these doctrines have been met. (Basurto v. Imperial
Irrigation District (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 866, 881.)
In their reply brief, Appellants contend that for purposes of interpreting their
complaint, the terms of the release support a conclusion that Jabo, as a League member,
effectively also became a member of Respondent and was fully entitled to all of its
services. On the other hand, they continue to claim the release was ineffective for all
purposes, and in their supplemental brief, they characterize the issue preclusion
supplemental briefing as a "side-show" to the central and remaining legal issues on the
existence of any or all duties owed to render emergency care to Jabo, "including with the
use of an AED."
Suffice it to say that the summary judgment granted on the cross-complaint is not
dispositive of the core issues presented by the amended complaint or the answer. We
have been given no basis to conclude that the trial court's analysis of the unenforceability
of the release was incorrect, and in any event, the record fully supports the crosscomplaint
ruling. Further, the determinations we make in the following discussion,
regarding the lack of legal duties owed in this context and the absence of gross
negligence, leave nothing to be effectively released. We decline to engage in the debate
about any effect of the purported release document, and instead proceed to the
fundamental arguments concerning duty in its various iterations here, with respect to
either ordinary or gross negligence.
The court's primary duty in interpreting a statute is to determine and effectuate
legislative intent. (Van Horn v. Watson (2008) 45 Cal.4th 322, 326;14 Lennane v.
Franchise Tax Board (1994) 9 Cal.4th 263, 268.) This entails giving statutory language a
commonsense meaning and construing it in the context of other provisions relating to the
same subject matter, to harmonize them if possible. (Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment
& Housing Com. (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1379, 1387.)
In this context of negligence causes of action, plaintiffs may go forward to address
additional elements of breach, causation, and damage, only where the alleged duties have
been established as a matter of law. Only at that point does the legal focus turn to the
defendant's manner of exercise of reasonable care, under the given set of circumstances,
and only then will questions of immunity from liability become determinative. (See
Hoyem v. Manhattan Beach City Sch. Dist. (1978) 22 Cal.3d 508, 517 [statutory
immunity evaporates upon a defendant's failure to exercise the reasonable care demanded
by the statute].) Given this set of facts, we examine the statutory terminology to

14 As explained in Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th 312, 327, Van Horn v. Watson, supra,
45 Cal.4th 322 has been superseded by statute to the extent its reading of certain statutory
immunities for persons rendering emergency medical care was not extended to a good
faith rescuer giving emergency nonmedical care. ( 1799.102, subd. (a).) The
framework for its duty analysis remains sound.
determine the scope of duties of care that are imposed by either the specific or the more
general AED statutes, in relation to immunities afforded to acquirers of the devices, such
as Respondent.
A. Operators of Sports Facility: Section 104113
Appellants initially focus on section 104113, the specific statute relating to the
particular obligations of health or fitness studios to acquire and maintain AEDs and to
provide the necessary training for their personnel to use the devices in medical
emergencies. Appellants claim that Jabo's signing of the waiver conferred membership
status on him in some way, or alternatively, that he was a permitted user of a "health
studio." Putting the proverbial cart before the horse, they declare, "Because the statute
already requires health studios to acquire and maintain AEDs and train employees on
their proper use [ 104113(a))], it would not be unduly burdensome to recognize an
additional common law duty to use AEDs when appropriate." They further argue
Respondent failed to fully comply with the staff training requirements of section 104113,
or its own policies and procedures, thus showing a conscious disregard for the safety of
others that would disqualify it from obtaining immunity.
In pertinent part, section 104113, subdivision (h) defines a "health studio" as a
"facility permitting the use of its facilities and equipment or access to its facilities and
equipment, to individuals or groups for physical exercise, . . . fitness training, or any
other similar purpose, on a membership basis." (See fn. 4, ante.) Although a health
studio is not a medical facility, the Legislature has determined that the nature of its
business justifies such statutory requirements for specialized emergency precautions
involving the provision of AEDs on site. (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 324, fn. 8;
104113, subd. (e) [administrative requirements for health studio's AED maintenance].)
The statutory term "health studio" does not readily connote a proprietor such as
Respondent that provides rentals to nonmembers of outdoor playing fields, but appears to
apply to some kind of facility that allows its members to use its recreational equipment.
(See Day v. Lupo Vine Street, L.P. (2018) 22 Cal.App.5th 62, 68 (Day) [under 104113,
subd. (h), a landlord of a "health studio" was not tantamount to "studio," when it did not
itself permit access to facilities on a membership basis].) Along those lines, Respondent
requests, and we grant, judicial notice of legislative history materials for section 104113.
These include a Senate Judiciary Committee staff bill analysis, stating the author
intended the bill to apply to fitness centers and health studios that provide services and
facilities to their membership clientele, but that "[t]he bill is not intended to apply to, for
example, . . . private or public building owners that rent their facilities for recreational
use by a third-party organization (such as the city or local high school renting out its
tennis courts for use by a private tennis club)." (Assem. Bill No. 1507 (2005-2006 Reg.
Sess.); Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Superior Court, supra, 191 Cal.App.4th 210, 223,
fn. 6 [judicial notice taken of portions of legislative history].)
It is not disputed that Respondent carries out many exercise-related activities on its
indoor and outdoor premises, and in many of them, it presumably is acting toward its
members as a "health studio" for purposes of the definition in section 104113,
subdivision (h). It is also not disputed that Respondent acquired and installed five AEDs
at the premises and enacted policies and procedures for training its personnel in their use,
such as checking them out at its scheduled or sponsored events. Under section 104113,
subdivision (e)(2)(D), a health studio is required to train up to five staff members in the
use of up to five AEDs, and additional personnel thereafter. Under section 104113,
subdivision (e)(2)(E), a health studio is required to prepare an emergency plan describing
the procedures to be followed. Respondent's activity in this respect was more extensive
than would be required of an ordinary business under section 1797.196, subdivision (b).
(See Day, supra, 22 Cal.App.5th 62, 68 [landlord leasing space to a "health studio" is not
in a position to comply with requirements in 104113 for servicing AEDS, etc.].)
Nevertheless, the briefs on appeal have not pointed to anything in this record
clearly establishing that when Respondent acquired and maintained five AEDs, it was
doing so as a health studio that had to comply with the statutory requirements of section
104113. In any event, the membership element of the statutory definition is absent from
this case. ( 104113, subd. (h).) The only relationship that Appellants can show most of
the League members clearly had with Respondent was to sign the release form that
Respondent required, to enable them to gain access to League events. Respondent's
program director provided deposition testimony that it was "a private rental" for the
League to use the field in return for a rental fee, and she negotiated a special agreement to
provide limited services to the League, as an accommodation of the League's stated
preferences to keep its arrangements informal and its membership exclusive, which were
both contrary to Respondent's ordinary policies. For League rentals, Respondent simply
assigned its staff member to open and lock up the field, supply balls and scorekeeping
equipment, on site during weekly activities.
When medical emergencies arise at Respondent's premises, its administrative
manual states in relevant part that "[d]ecisions as to the action required in each situation
must be evaluated in light of the circumstances of the moment," and gives basic
guidelines that first aid appropriate to the situation should be rendered and medical
assistance obtained. According to the deposition of Robert Sauvajot, its vice-president,
Respondent's policies are to supply emergency aid to members and nonmembers alike,
should they have such a need on the premises. In renting the field to the League, the
record does not support a conclusion that Respondent was undertaking to treat League
events the same as Respondent's sponsored events. It also did not undertake to ensure
that outside renters, such as the League, obtain and use their own AEDs.
As explained in Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th 312, 342, legislative judgments made
in the context of regulating AEDs are entitled to some deference, as that body is in "the
best position to examine, evaluate and resolve the public policy considerations relevant to
the duty question." Because the statutory definition of a health studio is specific in
nature, to justify the imposition of fairly onerous additional duties concerning AEDs
based upon the nature of the activities conducted there, we believe a narrow reading and
application of section 104113 was intended by the Legislature. Even for institutions
falling within its scope, section 104113, subdivision (b) grants immunity from liability
for civil damages to health studio employees, for their use or nonuse of an AED for
emergency care. Section 104113, subdivision (d) is intended to grant a health studio
immunity for damages resulting from an employee's act or omission "in the course of
rendering that emergency care," assuming the facility has complied with maintenance,
testing and training requirements. There are exceptions to the immunity provisions of
section 104113, where gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct is proven on the
part of the person who used or maliciously failed to use the AED. ( 104113,
subd. (f).)15 No such individualized malice is alleged here, only Respondent's allegedly
inadequate adherence to its own safety policies and procedures.
When we focus on the undisputed record showing the fairly attenuated
relationship between Respondent and the League, of which Jabo was a member, we
cannot conclude as a matter of law that section 104113 operated to impose upon
Respondent, as a provider of a facility with specified and limited staff services, all of the
statutory duties of the owners and managers of a "health studio."
B. Operators of Sports Facility: Section 1797.196
We next consider whether the precise statutory duties alleged, requiring
individualized emergency usage and application of those AEDs that a sports facility
operator has already made available to patrons, are consistent with legislative intent as
found in section 1797.196, or as indicated by the AED immunity provisions of Civil
Code section 1714.21. In examining the imposition of statutory duties, we are required to
consider categories of allegedly negligent conduct, not a particular defendant's individual
behavior. (Cabral, supra, 51 Cal.4th 764, 772-774.) As the owner and manager of a

15 Section 104113, subdivisions (e)(3) and (g) contain additional requirements that
apply when health studios allow their members access to the facility during times when
the facility does not have an employee on the premises. That was not shown to be the
case here. The immunity provision of section 104113, subdivision (c) (for board
members of a health studio) is not argued to apply here.
sports facility, Respondent is subject to a limited duty to use due care "not to increase the
risks to a participant over and above those inherent in the sport." (Knight, supra,
3 Cal.4th 296, 316; Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th 307, 315.)
In this context of AED regulation, it is appropriate to make distinctions between
"(1) a business's common law duty to take precautionary steps prior to the time such an
injury or illness has occurred in light of the foreseeability that such an injury or illness
may occur, and (2) a business's common law duty to act to assist a patron from an
ongoing threat to the patron's health and safety after the patron has experienced an injury
or illness on the business's premises." (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 338; italics
Section 1797.196 was enacted to encourage the provision by businesses of AEDs
for emergencies, but not to require their purchase (id., subd. (f); Verdugo, supra,

16 Out-of-state cases involve different statutes and different bodies of common law,
and are not particularly instructive in this context. (See 2 A.L.R.7th 5, "Liability Arising
out of Availability or Use of Automated External Defibrillator or Other Defibrillator
Device," collecting cases from a number of other courts on the potential liability of
health, fitness, or sports clubs or facilities, as alleged by survivors of patrons who
suffered cardiac arrest but who did not receive timely treatment at the facility. Such
cases consider the existence of statutory or other duties to have, maintain, timely bring, or
correctly use an AED on the patron prior to the arrival of emergency services. (E.g.,
Miglino v. Bally Total Fitness of Greater New York, Inc. (2013) 985 N.E.2d 128, 132-133
[statute seeking to ensure the availability of AEDs and trained users at health clubs did
not go further to require actual usage]; Trim v. YMCA (Md.Ct.Spec.App. 2017) 165 A.3d
534, 543-544 [statewide program for public access to AEDs intended to encourage
businesses to make devices available, but not to impose affirmative obligation of use];
see Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at pp. 342-343, fns. 23-28 [referencing other states'
statutes and case law].)
59 Cal.4th at pp. 321-323; Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at pp. 323-324).17 The
Legislature has afforded immunity from potential civil liability arising in this factual
context, under specified circumstances. (Verdugo, supra, at pp. 321-323; 1797.196;
Civ. Code, 1714.21.)
In this case, Respondent was making limited facilities available on a regular basis
for rental to the League, whose members were mainly not also members of Respondent.
Appellants do not plead a premises liability theory, since nothing was wrong with the
field and it is the level of emergency services provided that is in dispute. The League
participants were all over the age of 40, and were presumably aware of their own health
restrictions and the risks of engaging in strenuous exercise, such as soccer. (Rotolo,
supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at pp. 334, 337; see Limones v. School Dist. of Lee County (Fla.
2015) 161 So.3d 384, 392 ["a proprietor-customer relationship most frequently involves
two adult parties, whereas the school-student relationship usually involves a minor.
Furthermore, the business invitee freely enters into a commercial relationship with the
proprietor."].) Respondent did not undertake a special relationship to safeguard the

17 The Legislature recently enacted section 19300, listing categories of businesses or
schools that, if constructed and occupied on or after January 1, 2017, must have an AED
on the premises. (Stats. 2015, ch. 449, 1.) That provision is not applicable here, nor is
Government Code section 8345 (as renumbered from the former Gov. Code 8455
discussed in Verdugo), relating to the placement of AEDs in state-owned and state-leased
buildings. (See Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at pp. 324-325.) Other regulations apply to
medical facilities. (Ibid., fn. 10; 1250 [definition of health facility]; 1797.190
[training requirements for AEDs].) Since Verdugo was issued in 2014, Education Code
section 49417 was added for the provision of AEDs in school settings. Other than those
provisions and section 104113, "the Legislature has not imposed such a requirement on
other types of business establishments." (Verdugo, supra, at p. 342.)
health of the League members, but only to rent a field for their use, located a few minutes
away from the front desk where an AED was kept. Respondent trained and educated
many of its employees on AED use, and required a number of them to be present at the
site during operating hours. Its part-time employee Sadiq did not receive such training
until after Jabo died.
It is not disputed that Respondent sought to make an AED "accessible to anyone
that might feel comfortable using [it]." Sadiq did not bring an AED to League games.
He could have called the front desk, where an AED was located about 600 feet away.
Even so, when a sports facility operator such as Respondent supplies AEDs on its
premises, it does not become a comprehensive provider of emergency medical care.
Appellants cannot show it was unlawful for Respondent to allow Sadiq to go to the
restroom between games, thus leaving the field unattended, even though that was when
Jabo collapsed. There was evidence that when Sadiq came upon the ongoing emergency,
he ran to the parking lot to direct the ambulance to the field. There was no evidence of
any complete failure to attempt to render aid, or of any wrongful intent to prevent it.
Section 1797.196 does not impose on acquirers of AEDs any requirement for
universal training of all their employees, nor does it specify a mandatory supply of an
AED or the actual use of the same, at every location and type of event that is held
anywhere on premises such as Respondent operates, a large sports facility. "Nor can
such duties reasonably be implied from the language of these statutes. And, in our view,
imposition of such duties would not further the express legislative purpose to encourage
widespread use of AEDs." (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at p. 323.)
With regard to the malice exception, the trial court rejected Appellants' arguments
that even assuming a duty to utilize an AED existed, there were potential exceptions to
statutory immunities, by stating as follows, "There is no evidence that the YMCA and/or
Sadiq knew of a substantial likelihood of the need to use an AED on July 12, 2016, yet
with that knowledge intended not to use an AED. There is no evidence that the YMCA
knew Sadiq had failed to use an AED in the past and would not use an AED on Mr. Jabo
on July 12, 2016 due to malice. Plaintiffs only offer speculation and conjecture on
malice." Respondent's employee ran for help and thus attempted to render some aid
when the emergency arose. (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 338.) Appellants cannot
properly invoke the exception to any applicable immunity from civil liability under Civil
Code section 1714.21, subdivision (e) (exception from immunity where rescuer acted
with gross negligence or willful misconduct). The trial court correctly concluded that in
connection with the League's activities, the general AED statute, section 1797.196, did
not impose upon Respondent further statutory duties to ensure that its employee applied
and activated an AED at the field that day.
A. Contentions and Ruling
Appellants' fundamental claim in this respect is that Respondent, in undertaking to
acquire AEDs and train its staff in their deployment and use, made representations that
were unsubstantiated, about how Respondent was providing a safe and protected facility
for sporting events, both as to its members or to other users of the property such as Jabo.
(Artiglio, supra, 18 Cal.4th 604, 612.) They argue Respondent's actions or inactions gave
rise to an assumed duty of care, that was negligently undertaken, thus increasing the
inherent risks of the sport. (See Breaux v. Gino's, Inc. (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 379, 382
[traditional tort analysis allows liability for nonfeasance as well as misfeasance; however,
statute established that restaurant's legal duty to patron in distress was limited to timely
summoning medical assistance]; Jimenez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. (2015) 237
Cal.App.4th 546, 559 [triable issues of fact as to gross negligence existed when defendant
actively increased risks of injury by knowingly setting up sports equipment in dangerous
manner]; Chavez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 632, 642 [fitness
club's failure to perform regular preventative maintenance on equipment raised triable
issues of fact as to gross negligence].)
The trial court determined that no duty had been incurred pursuant to a negligent
undertaking theory. Although Respondent's employee Sadiq had undertaken to assist
getting the ambulance and paramedics to the specific location, "[he] had no additional
duty to go further and apply the AED or perform CPR. No case law is cited by plaintiffs
to support such an additional duty."
The ruling also stated Appellants were unable to show "that the assistance
provided by Sadiq contributed or increased the risk of harm to Mr. Jabo or that Mr. Jabo
reasonably relied on the undertaking to his detriment." The presumed special relationship
between a business and its patrons did not require Respondent "to apply lifesaving efforts
in the absence of having provided an unsafe facility (and there is no evidence suggesting
the soccer field was in any way defective)." Likewise, the court concluded that
Respondent's rules and policies that normally required an AED to be brought out to
soccer fields for games did not create a legal obligation to utilize one, absent any
evidence of reliance by Jabo as a League participant. The court reasoned that the
League's preferences not to inform Respondent of its updated schedule operated to hinder
Respondent's ability to follow its policies and procedures for bringing an AED to the
soccer field. The expert declarations supplied by Appellants did not support their
assertions of duty, since the exercise physiologist Abbott did not show any qualifications
to render an opinion based on California law, statute, or practices on the use of an AED
in California. Spezzano, the former YMCA national health and fitness consultant,
declared that he is "not qualified to testify as to the 'legal requirements' for the use of
AED's, and I have no opinion on that issue."
B. Extent to which Duty was Assumed
Appellants' negligent undertaking theory of liability "subsumes" all the basic
elements of a negligence action, including duty, breach of duty, proximate cause, and
damages. (Paz v. State of California (2000) 22 Cal.4th 550, 559 (Paz); Artiglio, supra,
18 Cal.4th at p. 614.) "[A] negligent undertaking claim of liability to third parties
requires evidence that: (1) the actor . . . undertook, gratuitously or for consideration, to
render services to another . . . ; (2) the services rendered were of a kind the actor should
have recognized as necessary for the protection of third persons . . . ; (3) the actor failed
to exercise reasonable care in the performance of its undertaking; (4) the failure to
exercise reasonable care resulted in physical harm to the third persons; and (5) either
(a) the actor's carelessness increased the risk of such harm, or (b) the undertaking was to
perform a duty owed by the other to the third persons, or (c) the harm was suffered
because of the reliance of the other or the third persons upon the undertaking." (Id. at
pp. 613-614.)
The negligent undertaking doctrine incorporates the general rule, and exception,
that one who did not create a peril "is not liable in tort for failing to take affirmative
action to protect another unless they have some relationship that gives rise to a duty to
act. [Citation.] However, one who undertakes to aid another is under a duty to exercise
due care in acting and is liable if the failure to do so increases the risk of harm or if the
harm is suffered because the other relied on the undertaking." (Paz, supra, 22 Cal.4th at
pp. 558-559; Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th 307, 326 ["negligent undertaking" doctrine
is an exception to general rule that one has no duty to protect another].)
Stated another way, the "Good Samaritan" rule is an outgrowth of the common
law of negligence. (Artiglio, supra, 18 Cal.4th 604, 613.) Civil Code section 1714.21 is
one such immunity statute that represents a legislative judgment that restricts liability,
under specified circumstances, for an entity that takes precautionary measures by
obtaining AEDs and having its employees or others provide emergency treatment with
them. The foundation for considering whether an actor, such as a rescuer, should be
exposed to liability on this theory is whether the actor made a specific undertaking " 'to
perform the task that he is charged with having performed negligently, for without the
actual assumption of the undertaking there can be no correlative duty to perform that
undertaking carefully.' " (Artiglio, supra, at pp. 614-615.)
In this context of rendering emergency aid, it is a legal question for the court
whether the defendant's alleged actions, if proven, would constitute an "undertaking"
sufficient to give rise to an actionable duty of care. (Artiglio, supra, 18 Cal.4th at
p. 614.) Although the nature and extent of an alleged duty is a question of law, the courts
must ascertain if factual issues exist about precisely what it was that the defendant
undertook to do. (Id. at p. 615.) For example, in Lichtman v. Siemens Industry Inc.
(2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 914, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment to a
defendant that had contracted with a city to provide services to keep a traffic light battery
backup system operable. In part, the court found the evidence raised inferences that the
manner in which the defendant performed its contractual duties served to increase the risk
of harm to third persons, in the event of a power outage, and the city had detrimentally
relied on the battery backup system to promote public safety. The injured plaintiff
(motorist hit in intersection) could properly invoke a negligent undertaking theory of duty
against the contractor. (Id. at p. 929; see Mukthar v. Latin American Security Service
(2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 284, 287, 291-293 [reversing grant of defense summary
judgment and allowing injured store employee plaintiff to proceed on negligent
undertaking theory of duty against security service that had failed to prevent harm for
which it was hired, assault at the store; "it is a reasonable inference that the presence of
an armed guard in close proximity to [plaintiff] would have prevented the assault";
unclear if trier of fact would actually draw that inference, however].)
In this case, the risk to Jabo was not external to him, such as a third party
contractor would present, but was physically inherent in the strenuous sport he was
playing. Respondent sought to make an AED "accessible to anyone that might feel
comfortable using [it]." Respondent obtained and maintained five AEDs, and adopted
AED-related policies and procedures. It provided training to employees in the use of
AEDs, and required them to bring an AED when staffing "an outdoor clinic, practice,
class, game, or rental." The soccer field was a few minutes' walk away from the front
desk, which had an AED, and away from any trained users of AEDs at the time.
Statistics showed that not every application of an AED in such a medical emergency
would succeed, however. (See fn. 9, ante.)
This record does not support a finding that Respondent's enactment and
implementation of AED rules and policies was " 'an undertaking of such breadth and
magnitude as to create a duty' " on its part to ensure the safety of all adult users of the
soccer field at all times it was in use, by providing and applying an AED at the site of
each such medical emergency. (Artiglio, supra, 18 Cal.4th at p. 617.) We cannot accept
Appellants' supposition that Respondent's employee's failure to use an AED on Jabo
increased the risk of his death from sudden cardiac arrest, which was instead a risk
inherent in his sport. When Respondent acquired its AEDs and trained most of its
employees to access and use them, it did not somehow increase any risks of harm to those
sports participants using its facilities, who might become vulnerable to sudden cardiac
arrest. (Paz, supra, 22 Cal.4th at p. 560; Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at pp. 335-336.)
Also, Appellants could not show Jabo or other League members who used the
premises relied, to their detriment, on Respondent's undertaking to acquire a number of
AEDs and train employees accordingly. Appellants have no support for the claim that
Sadiq's failure to use an AED was a substantial factor in causing Jabo's death. Summary
judgment was appropriately granted on this theory.
A. Framework for Analysis
Appellants next argue for the imposition of a general duty of care to widely
distribute and utilize AEDs that a sports facility, such as Respondent, has already
acquired and made available on its premises. Their argument is based on the traditional
duty analysis factors set out in Rowland, supra, 69 Cal.2d 108 concerning foreseeability
and public policy concerns. The existence and scope of a property owner's duty to
protect visitors against hazards is a question of law for the court to resolve on a case-bycase
basis. (Parsons, supra, 15 Cal.4th at p. 472.) The existence of " ' "[d]uty" is not an
immutable fact of nature " 'but only an expression of the sum total of those considerations
of policy which lead the law to say that the particular plaintiff is entitled to protection." ' "
(Ibid.) We evaluate the specific actions a plaintiff claims the defendant had a duty to
perform in a given case, to undertake a balancing of the risks and burdens and to
determine whether those obligations should be imposed, as requested. (Castaneda,
supra, 41 Cal.4th at p. 1214.)
In Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at page 338, the court analyzed issues about a
retailer's common law duty to take reasonable steps to protect the health of customers on
its premises, and distinguished between duties (1) to take precautionary steps to prepare
to handle foreseeable injuries or illnesses, and (2) to take action and assist patrons
observed to be ill or injured there. Here, it is not disputed that Respondent took some
such precautionary steps by providing AEDs, but Appellants argue they were
insufficiently widely deployed or used, and therefore Respondent failed to adequately
carry out its common law duties for assisting Jabo when he became ill. Verdugo
established that the existence of AED statutes is not incompatible with the obligation of
the courts to examine the scope of common law duties of care, particularly because a
business establishment can qualify for statutory immunities, where the business has
complied with AED requirements set forth by statute. (Id. at pp. 330-333.)
We examine the claim of a common law duty with reference to the factors
Rowland identified, which fall into two categories. "The first group involves
foreseeability and the related concepts of certainty and the connection between plaintiff
and defendant. The second embraces the public policy concerns of moral blame,
preventing future harm, burden, and insurance availability. The policy analysis evaluates
whether certain kinds of plaintiffs or injuries should be excluded from relief." (Regents
of University of California, supra, 4 Cal.5th 607, 629; Kesner v. Superior Court (2016)
1 Cal.5th 1132, 1145 (Kesner).)
It is necessary to evaluate these basic Rowland factors (Rowland, supra, 69 Cal.2d
108), foreseeability and public policy, " 'at a relatively broad level of factual generality.' "
(Regents of University of California, supra, 4 Cal.5th 607, 628; Cabral, supra, 51 Cal.4th
at p. 772.) "In considering them, we determine 'not whether they support an exception to
the general duty of reasonable care on the facts of the particular case before us, but
whether carving out an entire category of cases from that general duty rule is justified by
clear considerations of policy.' [Citation.] In other words, the duty analysis is
categorical, not case-specific." (Regents of University of California, supra, at p. 629.)
B. Trial Court's Ruling: No Common Law Duty
In its ruling, the trial court first acknowledged the general rule that persons who
have not created a peril are not liable in tort " 'merely for failure to take affirmative action
to assist or protect another unless there is some relationship between them which gives
rise to a duty to act.' " It continued, "This statement of law supports the absence of a
common law duty owed by the YMCA to use an AED or perform CPR on Mr. Jabo. []
. . . [] Further, in balancing the Rowland v. Christian factors, there is no common law
duty to apply an AED or perform CPR on Mr. Jabo. [] In this respect, plaintiffs contend
that there is a high risk of sudden cardiac arrest at facilities like the YMCA that may be
effectively remedied by the use of an AED. [Citation.] However, the Legislature (which
although it has not occupied the field has certainly been very active in it) has not
mandated a duty to use an AED [citing to 1797.196 and 104113; Civ. Code
1714.21]. . . . The Legislature has had ample opportunities to make clear its intent to
require the use of an AED. It has not done so."
The trial court next considered as factors the foreseeability of harm, and the
closeness in connection between the conduct alleged and the harm, and ruled they did not
favor the imposition of a common law duty under these circumstances. The duty of due
care imposed on the operator of a sports facility has limitations, requiring it to refrain
from increasing risks to a participant over and above those inherent in the sport. (Knight,
supra, 3 Cal.4th at pp. 315-316.) As a business proprietor, it must summon aid to assist a
patron experiencing a medical emergency, but the fact that there may be a high risk of
sudden cardiac arrest that could be remedied through the use of an AED does not itself
support the imposition of a duty to utilize one. (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at
pp. 336-338.)
With respect to factors of public policy, the trial court declined to find that there
was a level of culpability on the part of Respondent sufficient to find it to be morally
blameworthy: "There is no evidence that the YMCA intended, planned, or acquiesced in
the incident. There is no evidence that the YMCA had subjective or objective bad faith,
or engaged in inherently wrongful acts."
The ruling further stated it would be counterproductive to impose a duty to use an
AED, because it could discourage proprietors from obtaining them, if they would then be
penalized for breaches of duty occurring from their employees' failure to actually utilize
them. The court concluded, "Imposing a duty to use an AED could create a cottage
industry of litigation against businesses, schools, and premises that acquire and maintain
AEDs. This could make participation in soccer games, other sport games, and sports
leagues in California unaffordable or unavailable. [] Finding a common law duty to use
an AED will probably increase the cost of insurance. Insurance will undoubtedly become
more expensive and less available if liability is expanded. [] Essentially, the Rowland v.
Christian factors mandate that there is no common law duty for the YMCA to apply an
AED or perform CPR."
C. Duty Formulation: Foreseeability Factors
A court's task in determining duty " 'is not to decide whether a particular plaintiff's
injury was reasonably foreseeable in light of a particular defendant's conduct, but rather
to evaluate more generally whether the category of negligent conduct at issue is
sufficiently likely to result in the kind of harm experienced that liability may
appropriately be imposed . . . .' " (Cabral, supra, 51 Cal.4th 764, 772; italics omitted.)
"A duty 'to acquire and make available' an AED must reasonably be understood to
entail a variety of related obligations, including proper maintenance of the AED, AED
and CPR training and practice, and staffing of trained personnel." (Verdugo, supra,
59 Cal.4th at p. 336, fn. 18.) When acting as a sports facility operator, Respondent had a
special relationship with its invitees who might suffer a medical emergency, requiring it
to summon emergency services. (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at p. 333.) The persons
who participated in sports on its premises were deemed to have primarily assumed the
risk of injuries of the types ordinarily incurred in playing the sport. (Knight, supra,
3 Cal.4th at pp. 315-316; Rotolo, supra, at p. 333.) Comparative fault principles then
place upon the sports facility operator an additional duty of care, to avoid increasing
those risks that are inherent in the sport (doctrine of secondary assumption of risk;
Knight, supra, at pp. 315-316). For example, owners or operators of a sports facility
must not design or maintain a facility "in such a way as to unreasonably increase the risks
inherent in the sport." (Rotolo, supra, at p. 334.) However, they are not subject to a
heightened duty of care to protect invitees, such as a school district or common carrier
would have had. (Id. at p. 330.)
Appellants claim Respondent had a precautionary duty to ensure that all of its
employees received adequate training about the facility's emergency plan, specifically,
their obligation to check out and bring the AEDs that are provided to locations where
sports were being performed on the premises. This would also entail Respondent's duty
to supervise its employees to ensure that they followed the policy to disperse AEDs
throughout the property where such activities were taking place. (See Janice H. v. 696
North Robertson, LLC (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 586, 595 [jury verdict for plaintiff affirmed
because business proprietor owed a duty to use reasonable care to secure restrooms for
patrons, by providing security guard in the area, due to foreseeability of assault there and
deterrent effect; "having elected to employ multiple security guards and station them in
the restroom area, [proprietor] assumed a duty of reasonable care with regard to the
security guards' deployment"; substantial evidence existed of breach of duty and
Appellants further argue Respondent had a common law duty to better prepare its
employees to render adequate emergency assistance, by conducting drills and education
that would ensure that employees could and would actively use an AED in a medical
emergency, in a competent manner. Such a duty would impliedly require Respondent to
provide not only one fully trained and equipped staff member per event, but also a
substitute who would be available to persons on the premises to render such assistance,
within minutes of encountering an emergency. To evaluate these claims, we observe that
the League was formed to offer sports opportunities to certain community members who
were over the age of 40, and Respondent agreed to facilitate its activities. It is not
disputed that a League member might foreseeably suffer adverse medical consequences
from engaging in the strenuous sport of soccer. (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at
pp. 334, 337.)
Appellants contend that this sports facility operator could readily foresee that
participants might suffer this type of medical emergency and be harmed, upon a failure of
the facility's employees to provide the type of medical assistance needed. The duties
Appellants are proposing are analogous to the common law duty formulation that was
rejected in Rotolo. Those family members (parents of a teenager who died in 2004 of
sudden cardiac arrest while playing ice hockey) sought to impose on the building owner a
duty to give notice to building users of the existence or location of those AEDs that the
owner had already voluntarily installed. (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at p. 339.) The
court found no support for finding or implying such an additional duty of notice within
the applicable AED statutes, and stated that to imply or create such a notification duty
would not "further the legislative purpose of promoting the acquisition of these lifesaving
devices." (Ibid.)18
We agree with the trial court that merely because it is foreseeable that sports
participants may be vulnerable to sudden cardiac arrest, there is no principled basis to

18 The Legislature recently amended section 1797.196, subdivisions (b) and (c) to
expand the notification measures that must be taken by building owners that have
provided AEDs, and by schools that have done so, toward their tenants and school
employees. (Stats. 2015, ch. 264, 2; see fn. 17, ante, regarding recent statutory
amendments.) However, the statements in Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th 312, 324,
about the lack of common law duties to notify other incidental users of property about the
existence and location of installed AEDs do not appear to be affected by those
determine that additional duties, beyond those required by statute, exist for a sports
facility operator to compel its employees to utilize and apply those AEDs provided on the
premises, on pain of liability. This duty analysis is categorical, not case specific, and
statutory guidelines are relevant and instructive in this policy-based common law
analysis. (Kesner, supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 1144; Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th at pp. 334-
335.) The language of section 1797.196 and Civil Code section 1714.21 reflects that the
Legislature included considerations of duty and notice in this context. (Rotolo, supra,
151 Cal.App.4th at p. 324.) The applicable statutes do not expressly or impliedly impose
a duty on any individual employee to utilize an AED that has been made generally
available by the employer as a precaution against emergency situations, and do not
indicate that a common law extension of such a duty is appropriate.
Further, the foreseeability factors from Rowland, supra, 69 Cal.2d 108 do not
establish the necessary close connection between Respondent's conduct and the (most
regrettable) death of Jabo. "Even assuming, however, that respondents possessed a
general knowledge that athletes may succumb to sudden cardiac arrest during strenuous
activities, they could not have prevented such an occurrence, which is a risk assumed by
those playing the sport. There is therefore no close connection between anything
respondents did or did not do and the injury suffered by [the athlete] that led to his death.
The fact that statistically the chances of surviving an incident of cardiac arrest are
increased by the timely use of a defibrillator, even if this knowledge is imputed to
respondents, does not give rise to a duty on respondents' part to take affirmative steps to
ensure that the device will be used in appropriate circumstances, particularly considering
that the Legislature expressly has found no duty to acquire or install an AED in the first
place." (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at p. 337.)
D. Public Policy
Even if the foreseeability factors of Rowland, supra, 69 Cal.2d 108 weigh in favor
of recognizing a duty of care, the courts "must also consider whether public policy
requires a different result." (Regents of University of California, supra, 4 Cal.5th 607,
631; Kesner, supra, 1 Cal.5th at pp. 1149-1150; Cabral, supra, 51 Cal.4th at p. 781
[public policy factors include moral blame of defendant's conduct, policy to prevent
future harm, extent of burden on defendant, community concerns about imposing duty of
care with resulting liability for breach, and insurance availability for identified risk].) "A
duty of care will not be held to exist even as to foreseeable injuries . . . where the social
utility of the activity concerned is so great, and avoidance of the injuries so burdensome
to society, as to outweigh the compensatory and cost-internalization values of negligence
liability." (Regents of University of California, supra, at p. 631.)
In Verdugo, the court identified as factors to be considered in imposing specific
AED obligations such items as "the nature of a business's activities, the relationship of
those activities to the risk that a patron may suffer sudden cardiac arrest, the proximity of
the business to other emergency medical services, and other potentially relevant factors."
(Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th 312, 341.) The court deemed those to be policy
considerations "that appear especially appropriate for legislative inquiry and
determination." (Ibid.) Even assuming it is foreseeable that an identified danger will
arise on a business's premises, it is essential to consider "the relative burden that
providing a particular precautionary measure will place upon the business." (Id. at
p. 338.)
By facilitating the League's purposes, Respondent's rental arrangement had some
community and social utility that is entitled to some consideration as a balancing factor,
which we think supports limiting the extent of the burden of duty to be imposed.
(Regents of University of California, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 631; Castaneda, supra,
41 Cal.4th at p. 1214.) Public policy concerns are relevant as to the extent of the burden
to be placed through a duty to require more complete deployment of AEDs around the
premises, and a consequent duty to ensure their mandatory usage by employees.
In considering the extent of common law duties to be imposed on an acquirer of an
AED, the provisions of section 1797.196, subdivision (f) are relevant here, providing,
"Nothing in this section or Section 1714.21 of the Civil Code may be construed to require
a building owner or a building manager to acquire and have installed an AED in any
building." Once Respondent undertook to acquire and maintain AEDs, and to provide
them at outdoor fields, its undertaking of that burden should not be penalized by
requiring more stringent personnel practices that would treat its regular and part-time
employees effectively like amateur paramedics in this context. "The goal of encouraging
building owners to acquire and install AEDs, even though they have no duty to do so,
would not be furthered if courts were to impose duties on building owners acquiring
AEDs beyond those delineated in the statutes, thus creating uncertainty as to the scope of
the immunity provided." (Rotolo, supra, 151 Cal.App.4th at p. 338.) "Under these
circumstances, it is appropriate to leave to the Legislature the policy decision" on
whether a sports facility operator should be required to ensure that its employees actually
utilize any AEDs it has acquired for the protection of its patrons in the event of a medical
emergency. (Verdugo, supra, 59 Cal.4th 312, 341; Rotolo, supra, at pp. 315-316.)
For all of these reasons, the trial court correctly declined to impose an additional
common law duty of care requiring Respondent's employees to provide hands-on usage
of an AED when a medical emergency occurs, on these undisputed facts involving a
private rental of an outdoor facility and where Respondent had acquired AEDs and
enacted internal policies for distributing them at various locations where authorized
sports activities were taking place.

Outcome: Summary judgment is affirmed. Each party to bear its own costs of appeal.

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