A 69-year-old man in Florida died, supposedly as a result of being forced to clean Walgreens bathroom that store employees said he had soiled, his family alleges in court documents.
The lawsuit, which went from state to federal court on Monday, states that Fernando Elizarraras died from emotional distress caused by a trip to Walgreens on Landstar Boulevard in Orlando, Florida on October 15, 2012. The plaintiff is the deceased’s wife, Maria Elizarraras.
According to Mrs. Elizarraras, Walgreens staff stopped her husband while he was on his way out of the store after using the bathroom. They physically took him back, saying, “You left a mess, (expletive) all over the bathroom,” Fox8 reports.
Fernando apparently was not allowed to leave for around 20 minutes, where he was threatened until he had finished mopping and cleaning the restroom. The incident caused him to be, “humiliated, disgraced and injured in his feelings, emotionally and mentally.” He had been a longtime customer of that specific branch.
The family is suing, alleging that the incident directly contributed to his death. Legal experts, however, say that the case will be difficult to prove, especially since there are no specifications in the court papers on how much time had elapsed between the Walgreens incident and Elizarraras’ death.
Belvin Perry, a legal analyst, told WFTV, “In all my years in the court system, this is new to me, never seen it. We need to know how cleaning a bathroom led to a death, it’s just an allegation with no specificity.”
Perry did admit that employees cannot force customers to clean a public bathroom in their stores against their will.
The amount the family is demanding is undisclosed, but according to the court papers, there is an offer to settle with the retailer for $500,000.
As of Tuesday, Walgreens has not responded to the lawsuit in federal court.