GRETNA – The family of a man who died after choking on a piece of sausage is suing the healthcare facility where the incident allegedly took place.

The estate of Ricky Zar, Glenda Estes, Talia Zar and Andrew Zar filed suit against St. Elizabeth’s Caring LLC and West Jefferson Health Care Center in the 24th Judicial District Court on March 18.

The plaintiffs allege that Ricky Zar was admitted to West Jefferson Health Care Center on May 26, 2010 after suffering a stroke that left him unable to walk and made it difficult for him to swallow and he was also diagnosed with psychosis and short term memory loss as well as dementia. When Zar was admitted to the hospital he allegedly forgot to bring his dentures and was put on a chopped meat diet by his physician and a meal card attached to his dinners stated such. However, on Feb. 20, 2012 the plaintiffs allege Zar was transported to the healthcare facility’s dining room where he was served red beans and rice, sausage, cornbread and pineapple, all which were against his physician’s orders.

The plaintiffs assert that Zar swallowed a three to four inch piece of sausage whole and choked. At the time of the incident a staff member attempted to give him the Heimlich maneuver in order to dislodge the sausage, but was unsuccessful and an ambulance arrived 11 minutes later at which time his eyes had rolled into the back of his head and he had no pulse. Although paramedics were able to pull the piece of sausage out with a pair of forceps and Zar was able to breath and regained his pulse he died three days later allegedly due to asphyxia and cardiac arrest related to the incident.

The defendant is accused of medical malpractice.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for mental pain and suffering, physical pain and suffering, fear of death and wrongful death.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Leo J. Palazzo of Gretna.

The case has been assigned to Division C Judge June Berry Darensburg.

Case no. 736-591.

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