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Connecticut city official files lawsuit against ophthalmologist he claims damaged his vision


In court documents in Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport, Isidore Sobkowski claims surgeons at the Wilton Surgery Center failed to properly clean their instruments resulting in him contracting a sight-threatening eye infection.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/zimmytws)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/zimmytws)

A Stamford, Connecticut, official has filed a lawsuit against an ophthalmologist and surgery center, claiming a routine eye surgery left him with severely damaged vision.

Isidore “Izzy” Sobkowski, 67, the city’s chief information officer, claims in the lawsuit filed in Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport that doctors at the Wilton Surgery Center failed to properly clean their instruments resulting in him contracting a sight-threatening eye infection.1

In the lawsuit filed in Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport, Sobkowski is seeking unspecified damages against the surgery center and its ophthalmologist, Glenn Ostriker, MD, a Greenwich resident, who also serves as the director of ophthalmology at Stamford Hospital, which is also named in the suit.

According to court documents, Sobkowski agreed to the surgery, which he believed would improve his vision and enhance his retirement.2 He had hoped to pursue his passion of piloting airplanes.

The hospital this week filed motions for extensions for time to plead and discovery.

The Middletown Press reported that Eric J Stockman, of Stockman O’Connor Connors, the attorney representing the hospital, said “As this matter is the subject of pending litigation, Stamford Health will express its views and defend itself through the judicial process.”

Lawyers for the surgery center and the doctor did not return emails and calls for comment, according to the Middletown Press. Sobkowski wife, Frances Tischler, are being represented by Douglas Morabito of the Bridgeport law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder.2

Morabito told the newspaper the couple have had their lives impacted by the incident.

Izzy came in for a routine cataract procedure and was left with irreparable damage to his eye, deeply compromising his quality of life along with his family's,” he told the newspaper.2 “ This lawsuit is seeking justice for Izzy and Fran for what was plainly a preventable error.”

Sobkowski, a nationally recognized expert in artificial intelligence, was named the city’s first chief information officer in 2021.

According to the suit, on May 24, 2022, Sobkowski went to the Wilton Surgery Center for cataract surgery.

“But the very cataract surgery that was supposed to extend Izzy’s horizons instead left his future plans permanently grounded,” according to the lawsuit.

According to court documents, the suit alleges Ostriker and the facility’s staff did not properly and adequately clean and sterilize the surgical equipment used during the surgery resulting in Sobkowski contracting a bacterial infection in his eye.

Court filings allege Ostriker failed to comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions for use for the “cleaning, sterilization, disinfection, inspection, preparation, packaging, storage, maintenance, and use” of the phacoemulsification device and instrumentation, “including but not limited to those governing irrigation/aspiration handpieces and phaco tips.”

The lawsuit also alleges Ostriker introduced non-sterile irrigation fluids intraoperatively and failed to comply with Ophthalmic Instrument Cleaning and Sterilization Task Force guidelines and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery guidelines.1

The lawsuit further claims Ostriker failed to appropriately evaluate, diagnose and treat endophthalmitis.

Moreover, according to court documents the lawsuit alleges that Sobkowski was not the only patient treated at the Wilton Surgery Center that day to experience vision loss following a scheduled surgery.

According to the lawsuit, "At least one additional patient was blinded" after also developing an infection.1

As a result of his condition, Sobkowski now suffers from "permanent and severe vision loss punctuated by uncontrollable eye-tearing and severe light sensitivity," according to court documents.1

In court filings, Ostriker’s attorney asked the court to dismiss the case, maintaining that Sobkowski and Tischler "failed to include a sufficient written expert opinion letter authored by a similar healthcare provider."

As of March 19, the judge had not ruled on that motion.2

  1. Case Detail - FBT-CV24-6129830-S. civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov. Accessed March 19, 2024. https://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=FBTCV246129830S
  2. Tepfer D. Lawsuit: Stamford official claims Wilton eye surgeon blinded him. The Middletown Press. Published March 19, 2024. Accessed March 19, 2024. http://www.middletownpress.com/news/article/lawsuit-wilton-eye-center-stamford-19202163.php
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