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Complaints Dismissed Against Three Liquor Agents in Heart Patient’s Death

August 21, 1992

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A judge removed three state liquor agents from a lawsuit filed by the family of a heart patient who died after scuffling with agents who raided a fund-raiser for his transplant surgery.

Two other agents, Robert Johnson and Clair Witkowski, are still named in the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

The federal jury resumed deliberations today.

Before charging the jury Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Standish ruled that agents James McDonald, Ronald Randic and Steve Sandrovich were not present when heart patient Albert J. Robitzer Jr. scuffled with agents and therefore could no be held liable in his death.

Robitzer collapsed after being struck in the chest and shoved in a chair by agents, according to the lawsuit. He was pronounced dead at a hospital a few hours later.

Five liquor-control officers raided the March 5, 1988, party after an anonymous tip about a teen-age beer bash, according to trial testimony.

The defense said the agents had no idea the party was a benefit for Robitzer, and that the agents were protecting themselves from attacks from some of Robitzer’s relatives.

Four minors were arrested at the dance for underage drinking.

Robitzer, who was 43, had diabetes and needed a new heart because his arteries and heart muscle were failing.

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