Family Seeks Damages After John Kocak Chokes at Applebee's and Dies

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

John Kocak, 48, was eating at an Applebee’s in Greenfield, Massachusetts, when he choked on his meal as employees stood by on Dec. 5, 2011.

After John was discovered unconscious in the bathroom by his father, he was transported to a local hospital where he died a few days later due to oxygen deprivation and brain damage as a result of choking.

Now, John’s family is suing for damages. A lawsuit filed by attorney John Stobierski contends that the assistant manager at Applebee’s did not inform first responders that the victim was not breathing and lacked a pulse.

“Had the assistant manager adequately assessed John Kocak and relayed that information to the dispatcher, simple life saving emergency measures could have been relayed to the assistant manager,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit also alleges Applebee’s employees were not trained to handle choking patrons and there was no device at Applebee’s to remove food from a person’s airway, both of which are required by law for restaurants that seat more than 25 people.

Michael Kocak, John’s father, is suing for negligence, reckless/wanton/gross negligence, conscious pain and suffering, which resulted in wrongful death, and unfair or deceptive acts. The lawsuit seeks $26,636.69 in damages from hospital and ambulance bills and compensation for loss of expected income and companionship of the deceased, funeral expenses, and punitive damages as a result of the alleged gross negligence and reckless misconduct of the restaurant as well as attorneys’ fees.

Applebee’s managers declined to comment to The Recorder, and officials at corporate headquarters did not return calls before publication deadline.

Source: The Recorder / Image via Jim Henderson/Wikimedia Commons