Poumele, 44, was playing basketball with friends at an Oceanside 24 Hour Fitness club on June 4 when he experienced a heart attack and collapsed. The Poumele family is claiming wrongful death in San Diego County Superior Court, according to 10 News, alleging 24 Hour employees were unable to find the club's automated external defibrillator (AED). After the apparatus was produced, the lawsuit claims it was uncharged and unable to deliver a proper countershock.
Paramedics arrived but were unable to resuscitate the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Poumele, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
"Had [employees] been available to help him and use an AED right away, he would still be alive today," family attorney Bibianne Fell told 10 News.
All California health clubs are required by state law to provide, maintain and train workers on AEDs.
"Gyms need to do a better job at making sure employees are trained, that the equipment there is properly working," Poumele's wife Jessica told 10 News.
When a person goes into cardiac arrest, their odds of survival drop approximately 10 percent for each minute defibrillation is not administered, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. Most survivors receive AED treatment within four minutes of onset.
Poumele played football at Oceanside High before moving onto the University of Arizona and later the NFL, where he was an offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers throughout the 1990s, according to the Union-Tribune. He was also the cousin of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau, who died in Oceanside in 2012 at age 43.
24 Hour Fitness representatives have declined to comment on Poumele death's, citing pending litigation.