The family of a Hollywood executive who died in a California gym is suing the club and seeking unspecified damages.
The lawsuit alleging negligence and wrongful death was filed against Studio City Fitness Gym on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. It claims an automated external defibrillator (AED) was not present, nor were personnel trained in the device's use when Marc Palotay died while working out on March 20.
The suit states Palotay, who was the senior vice president at NBCUniversal, suffered a 'minor' heart attack and did not receive defibrillation until emergency personnel arrived. He was 65.
Sean Bernig, a manager at the gym, told City News Service that the studio had an AED when Palotay suffered the heart attack, and the trainer responsible for getting him help was an independent contractor.
Berning also told City News Service that Palotay signed the waiver of liability in the gym's contract.
The suit cites a 2007 California law requiring the state's health clubs to have an AED available and maintained and to have personnel trained in its use.
Should the suit go to trial, the dispute over the AED's presence will likely be a point of contention.
"Unfortunately the gym, where he trained three or four mornings a week to stay healthy, they chose to put profits over safety and not buy this simple device that likely would have saved his life," Palotay family attorney Spencer Lucas told KABC.
The California law provides 'Good Samaritan' civil suit protection to club employees who use, attempt to use or do not use the AED in an emergency care or treatment situation. The same language in the law also protects the club managers from civil suits.
However, the law exempts those civil protections in cases of personal injury or wrongful death resulting from gross negligence or misconduct by the person who uses, attempts to use or maliciously fails to use the AED to render emergency care or treatment.
Fourteen states require health clubs to have AEDs, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Those states are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Rhode Island. The District of Columbia requires AEDs in recreational facilities.