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(photo by Jeff Kubina; some rights reserved)

The Mississippi Court of Appeals recently ruled that a retail business does not have the duty to provide and perform EMT-level medical-rescue efforts like using automated defibrillator or performing CPR.

The specific case involved a 67 year old who had a heart attack and collapsed while playing a slot machine at the Isle of Capri Casino in Natchez, MS. Employees came to her aid and an ambulance was called. Employes also tried to perform CPR. When the EMT’s arrived they shocked her heart and her heart restarted. Unfortunately, her brain was severely damaged by the intervening lack of oxygen. She ultimately died when she was taken off of life support.

The family of the deceased filed suit alleging that the Casino was negligent in failing to timely start CPR or use an AED. The case specifically turned on the duty to render aid. While there is no general duty of one person to render aid to another person, a property owner who opens its property up to the public is in a special relationship to those who accept the invitation to come onto the property. The Court of Appeals stated that the duty of a property owner in such a situation is to take reasonable steps to render first aid and care for a patron until someone more qualified can take over. First aid requires no more assistance than that which can be provided by an untrained person. The Court found that the Casino met this duty by calling the ambulance and providing what care that it could.