PEMBROKE PINES, FL — On Wednesday, April 18, 2007, Robert Czwartacky went to Publix on South Flamingo Road in Pembroke Pines to shop. He selected shopping cart, entered the water aisle, and slipped and fell on water on the ﬂoor, landing squarely on his right knee. He was taken to a local hospital by Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue where a broken bone was conﬁrmed. Several days later he had surgery to ﬁx the broken bone and his leg was placed in a leg brace to allow it to heal. He was expected to miss work for a time but make a full recovery. He was scheduled to go to a follow up appointment with his surgeon in about a week.
While recuperating at his home Robert Czwartacky reached out to Sam Coffey to seek representation for what seemed like a routine slip and fall accident. However, a very serious medical condition developed that made this case far from ordinary.
Robert did not make it to the next scheduled visit with his surgeon. His leg had been immobilized since the surgery and on the afternoon of May 2, 2007, he was found unresponsive.
Muriel Czwartacky, Robert’s distraught 89 year old mother, reached out to Sam Coffey because her eldest son died just days after a routine surgery. She wanted answers and needed help.
The Broward County Medical Examiner reviewed the case and concluded that pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT ) which is a surgical complication due to lack of mobility caused the untimely death of Robert Czwartacky.
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh. DVT occurs when a blood clot in a vein breaks oﬀ and travels through your bloodstream where it can lodge in the lung causing a sometimes deadly condition known as pulmonary embolism. Blood clots in the thigh are usually more likely to break off and cause pulmonary embolism than clots in the lower leg or other parts of the body.
Unfortunately, Robert’s greatest risk factors for developing DVT wascaused by need to immobilize his leg after surgery. He experienced slowed blood ﬂow in a deep vein resulting from injury, surgery and immobilization; was sitting or lying down for long periods of time recuperating from his surgery; he was over age 60; and, he was slightly overweight. The prevailing medical literature indicates that risk for deep vein clots increases if one has several risk factors at the same time.
Sam Coffey ﬁled suit against Publix for wrongful death based upon Florida caselaw that allows a party to recover all the damages that naturally ﬂow from the original injury. The surgical complication caused the wrongful death of Robert therefore Publix had to pay for those damages if liability could be established.
However, Robert could no longer testify about what occurred and Publix denied that the accident was captured on videotape. Sam Coffey learned through discovery that the source of the water was a 2.5 gallon water jug stored on the bottom shelf in the water aisle. Publix’s employees testified that a quarter of the water had leaked out of the jug at the time of inspection shortly after the accident. Further, the store manager destroyed crucial evidence just after Robert was taken from the store by Fire Rescue.
Shortly before this matter was going to proceed to trial agreed to compensate Mrs. Czwartacky more than $500.000 for the loss of her son rather than face a Broward County jury.
Sam Coffey commented, “Publix is responsible for keeping its stores clean and safe for its customers and it failed miserably. The destruction of evidence is a clear sign of guilt.”