Partner Allan M. Siegel testified before the D.C. Council regarding a very important piece of legislation which the Council is considering implementing. The legislation would require that all public spaces, including city recreation centers, make defibrillators available. A defibrillator is an electronic device that applies an electric shock to restore the rhythm of a fibrillating heart. The legislation would place these devices at city recreation centers, where citizens are engaged in strenuous physical activity and cardiovascular emergencies can occur suddenly. The legislation has the potential to save hundreds of lives.
Mr. Siegel, testifying as President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC , supported the bill, but expressed concern that the legislation as written provided overbroad immunity to the District of Columbia. The proposed legislation provided that a facility that made a defibrillator available which did not work because it was not properly maintained, or that failed to have a staff member available who can operate the defibrillator, could not be sued.
This was clearly contrary to the intent of the legislation which was to have a working defibrillator at these sites, and qualified people on site who could use it to save lives. Mr. Siegel proposed an amendment to eliminate this problem. The testimony was well received, and we are hopeful that the Council implements the proposed amendment.