Kristen Larson

This week the Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument in Limones v. School District of Lee County. (SC13-932) The central issue in this case is whether a school district’s failure to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) was a breach of the School Board’s “common law duty to use appropriate post-injury efforts to protect [a student’s] injury against aggravation.” Limones v. Sch. Dist. Of Lee Cnty, 111 So. 3d 901 (2d DCA 2013).

Abel Limones, Jr. collapsed during a high school soccer game. The soccer coach as well as a bystander performed CPR on him to no avail. Although an AED was located nearby, it was not used. Emergency personnel resuscitated him by using a semi-automated external defibrillator. An expert witness testified that Limones suffered severe and permanent brain damage and that this would not have occurred had an AED been used within one to two minutes of his collapse. Abel Limones, Sr. and Sanjuana Castillo, Abel Limone’s, Jr.’s parents, sued the School Board for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment to the school district, holding that it did not have an affirmative duty to act to help Limones.

The Second District Court of Appeals upheld the Circuit Court’s summary judgment ruling, finding that although the School Board had a duty to protect Abel’s injury from aggravation, the court must define the scope and extent of the duty once a duty to use post-injury efforts has been established and that the School Board’s common law duty does not require them to maintain, or make available for use, an AED. The petitioners argued that this violates Florida law because once a duty has been ascertained (as the School Board’s duty to protect injury from aggravation has been) then a jury should decide the question of what constitutes a breach of that duty. Additionally, the petitioners argued that because statute requires schools to keep an AED and train employees to use it, the school had a statutory duty to actually use the defibrillator when necessary. See section 1006.165, Fla. Stat. The respondents argued that the appeals court correctly upheld the ruling because the determination of duty depends on the facts of the case and because there is no statutory duty regarding actually using AEDs. Respondents also argued that the ruling does not expressly and directly conflict precedent and that the Florida Supreme Court therefore does not have jurisdiction.

Video of the oral arguments is available here.

Power Struggle: Does a School Have an Affirmative Duty to Use an AED When Necessary?

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