Garbage truck fatally injures elderly resident

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Case in Point

March 27, 2012

Garbage truck fatally injures elderly resident 

The 93-year-old man’s estate alleged that the truck driver was negligent in backing up the vehicle without another crewmember keeping a lookout and before ensuring that the area was clear. The parties settled for $1.15 million. Koza v. Pope.

After trash collectors took away some cardboard boxes for him, Wladyslaw Koza, 93, walked into the street to tip them. While Koza was standing behind the garbage truck, the driver backed into him. The truck dragged him about 30 feet before the driver’s helper noticed Koza and alerted the driver.

Koza sustained a subdural hematoma and a degloving injury to his right arm. He lost consciousness soon after the accident and remained on a ventilator for 10 days until his death. His medical expenses totaled about $192,000. At the time of the incident, he was an active retiree who was renovating his home. He is survived by three adult children and six grandchildren.

Koza’s son, on behalf of his estate, sued the owner of the truck, All Service Refuse Co., several related companies, the truck driver, and the temporary service that had hired him. The plaintiff contended that the driver was negligent in backing up the truck before ensuring that the area was clear and in violating All Service’s policies, which prohibited backing up when it was not absolutely necessary and when there was no other crewmember keeping a lookout. The plaintiff contended that the driver was backing up the truck to pick up another member of the crew.

The plaintiff alleged vicarious liability against the All Service defendants based on their ownership of the truck and against the temporary service that employed the driver.

The defendants admitted liability on the eve of trial. The parties then settled for $1.15 million, including $1 million from All Service and $150,000 from the temporary service.

A medical bills lien was resolved for $44,000.

Citation: Koza v. Pope, No. 09-246465 (09) (Fla., Broward Co. Cir. Feb. 14, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: Crane A. Johnstone, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


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