ORLANDO, Fla. – A 69-year-old man died after being forced to clean the Walgreens bathroom employees accused him of soiling, his family claims in court papers obtained by WFTV.
According to the lawsuit, which moved from state to federal court Monday, Maria Elizarraras says that her husband Fernando Elizarraras died as a result of the emotional distress caused by his trip to the Walgreens on Landstar Boulevard in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 15, 2012.
She claims Walgreens workers stopped the 69-year-old on his way out of the store after using the bathroom, and physically forced him back to the restroom, saying, “You left a mess, (expletive) all over the bathroom.”
The lawsuit says Fernando wasn’t allowed to leave for 20 minutes until he had mopped and cleaned the bathroom, causing him to be “humiliated, disgraced and injured in his feelings, emotionally and mentally.”
Fernando’s family is suing, saying the incident directly caused his death, but a legal expert told WFTV the case will be difficult to prove – especially since the court papers don’t specify how much time elapsed between the trip to Walgreens and Elizarraras’ death.
“In all my years in the court system, this is new to me, never seen it,” legal analyst Belvin Perry told the television station. “We need to know how cleaning a bathroom led to a death, it’s just an allegation with no specificity.”
Perry did say that employees cannot force a customer to clean a public bathroom in the store against his will.
Fernando’s family is suing for an unspecified amount, but, according to court documents, included an offer to settle for $500,000.