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Inaction could lead to wrongful death in Massachusetts

Most everywhere in Massachusetts, it's generally considered poor form for a male to enter a designated female restroom or locker room. At Planet Fitness, male employees are prohibited from entering the ladies room. However, it would seem that common sense should prevail in any instance where a medical emergency designated the need for 'breaking the rules.' A 22-year-old woman recently suffered may be deemed a wrongful death because a male employee would not enter the female restroom to tend to her after she collapsed.

In early 2012, the young woman collapsed in a Planet Fitness restroom. Another member heard her and went for help, summoning the male employee. The male employee was apparently perplexed by the situation and said he was unsure of how to help the woman because he was not allowed to go into the ladies room. The employee was purportedly "scared and confused" and waited a full half-hour before calling 911. The time span between the initial incident and the 911 call was documented by video surveillance.

Eventually, a female Planet Fitness employee entered the restroom to tend to the young woman. While the female employee entered the restroom prior to the arrival of police, the young lady had collapsed approximately 20 minutes prior. The young woman was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering what is believed to have been "sudden cardiac arrest." Now, her parents are suing the gym, along with the male employee, because they believe his actions – or rather inaction – resulted in their daughter's death.

Often, when Massachusetts residents consider personal injury or wrongful death, the idea of negligence – such as reckless driving or DUI – is a common consideration. However, it is also true that inaction can be considered negligent. Because the gym employee failed to render aid to the young woman after she collapsed, and waited for an extended period of time before contacting emergency responders, he could be held accountable, in part, for her death. The aforementioned story is tragic, and the young woman's parents are likely suffering a great deal of pain in the wake of their loss. In cases like this, compensation is often used to recoup losses associated with end-of-life expenses and funeral costs.

Source: Huffington Post, "Planet Fitness Employee's Fear Of Ladies Room Allegedly Caused Woman's Death, Lawsuit Claims," Harry Bradford, June 25, 2013

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