A family dinner outing ended in the death of 48-year-old John Kocak in a Greenfield, Mass. restaurant’s bathroom. Kocak choked to death on food.
This story might have had a different ending, if the restaurant where Kocak died, after temporary revival, had the proper tools on the premises for removing food from airways and had the staff had proper training on how to handle such situations.
In 2011, the Kocak family went out for a meal at Applebee’s restaurant. Kocak left the table to go to the bathroom, but did not come back. When his father went to find him, he found his son unconscious on the bathroom floor. Kocak’s father immediately asked the assistant manager to call 911.
When EMT’s arrived, Kocak was not breathing and had no pulse. Emergency medical personnel removed food from his airway and managed to resuscitate him. He was rushed to hospital where he survived for several days, but ultimately died as a result of lack of oxygen to his brain.
Kocak’s father chose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the restaurant and the assistant manager, alleging that they did not have the mandatory training to handle a choking nor did they have a device on the premises to remove food from an airway. State law mandates that restaurants with a seating capacity for more than 25 people must be equipped with the proper devices, and that staff must be trained in their use.
The suit also alleges negligence, gross negligence, and conscious pain and suffering, seeking compensation for ambulance invoices, medical expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship, funeral and burial expenses and punitive damages.
According to the statement of claim, the assistant manager did not tell the 911 dispatcher that Kocak had no pulse and was not breathing. Had he relayed that information, the staff may have been able to perform live saving measures to assist the man until EMTs arrived.
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