Family sues Albertsons over debilitating crashBy ROBERT NAPPER
BRADENTON — Monica Costello’s pain is still raw as she recalls the accident that left her son nearly brain dead and wheelchair-bound, most likely for the rest of his life.
Some days, it gets so tough she wonders if she did the right thing for her son by keeping him alive.
“I ask myself all the time if he would have wanted this,” she said. “It is terrible agony to wonder that and feel at the same time there is no way I think I could handle being the person to take my son out of this world.”
Ryan Costello, 22, has been in a wheelchair since the April 8, 2006, crash, in which the Florida Highway Patrol says his friend, Zane Zavadil, 19, drove off Anna Maria Bridge. FHP troopers ruled both Costello, then 19, and Zavadil, who died in the crash, had been drinking alcohol before the accident.
Now an Orlando attorney hopes to prove the Albertsons grocery store chain is responsible for the crash that brought widespread publicity and sadness in Manatee almost three years ago.
Attorney Woody Igou filed a lawsuit Wednesday at the Manatee courthouse stating several witnesses have given sworn testimony that they were with Costello and Zavadil, who were underage, when they bought the alcohol they drank before the crash from the Albertsons store at 7415 Manatee Ave. W.
The lawsuit also alleges an ongoing pattern of sales of alcohol to minors at the store. Igou said during his investigation, several witnesses have also testified to buying alcohol from the store more than 200 times while underage.
Igou argued in his lawsuit that Albertsons engaged in “grossly negligent conduct that contributed to the injuries and losses to plaintiffs and others.”
The lawsuit was filed against Supervalu, Inc., a Minnesota-based company described in the suit as the owner of the Manatee Avenue store at the time of the crash. However, a Supervalu spokeswoman said the company did not own the Albertsons store at the time of the crash, which Igou refuted.
Officials with Supervalu and Albertsons, LLC, the listed owner of the Manatee Avenue Albertsons, did not return phone calls seeking responses to Igou’s claims.
Monica Costello said attorneys for Supervalu have been to her house and examined her son’s condition, as well as the medical equipment needed to keep him alive. But she has not heard from Supervalu or Albertsons since.
Igou said he has sought to settle with Albertsons officials, but he said his phone calls are not being returned.
Said Costello: “To me that is a slap in the face, that they won’t even acknowledge us.”
Igou said a medical expert he hired said the cost of medical care for Ryan Costello for the rest of his life will amount to an estimated $15 million to $20 million, which he is seeking in the lawsuit.
Costello said her son’s injuries have crushed her not only emotionally but financially.
“It has been beyond catastrophic for a single mother,” she said.
The lawsuit is not just about the money, she said. Costello often talks to DUI offender classes about the dangers of drinking and driving, and she says she just wants to see a store she believes is consistently selling alcohol to minors to stop.
“I am not saying my son is not responsible for his part of what happened to him. As you can see, he’s paying severely for what he did,” Costello said. “I just want Albertsons to be held responsible to operate under the letter of the law. One boy lost his life, another boy lost the life he knew. I just don’t want any other mothers to go through this.”
© 2009 Bradenton.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.bradenton.com
if you go to the papers webpage, there are pictures of the kid and his mom. I went to HS with him, and Zane, but was a senior when they were freshman. I kinda knew Zane, we had an art class together and sat at the same table. He was the obnoxious freshman surrounded by seniors. I wasn't really a fan, but I was saddened when I heard of his death, just because well, I knew him, and he died and he was younger than me. Shit like that sucks.