20Nov 2019
You Better Watch Out: Stay Safe this Holiday Season

You Better Watch Out: Stay Safe this Holiday SeasonBy Richard L. Purtz, board certified trial attorney, Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A.

You are probably already making lists of things that need to be done during the hectic holiday season that seems to start earlier and get busier every year. I’m not being Scrooge when I say you might also want to make a list of things to watch out for this holiday season.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holidays are among the busiest travel periods during the year. For Thanksgiving planning, it’s important to note there’s another black day to think about in addition to Black Friday. It’s Blackout Wednesday, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

This Wednesday has also become known as Drinksgiving, because it’s often when college students and other people heading out for a four-day weekend start their celebration by drinking. It’s the beginning of the most dangerous season on the roads, as alcohol-related crash numbers stay high until New Year’s Day.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 528 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2017, the latest statistics available. Additionally, one-third of all fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday involve drunk drivers.

Then there’s Black Friday and the shopping ramp up to Christmas. Black Friday injuries are not uncommon in the frenzy of people rushing into stores to snap up deals. The first Black Friday death came in 2013, when shoppers in Long Island trampled a Walmart employee to get to items on sale.

While stores have a responsibility to make sure no hazards can cause injury to customers, they are also responsible for keeping shoppers under control. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued crowd control guidelines for all stores to follow that include:

  • Setting up barricades or rope lines to handle crowd management
  • Preparing the staff for the opening of the store
  • Staffing entrances with uniformed guards, police or other authorized personnel
  • Locating sale items in different parts of the store to prevent overcrowding
  • Provide crowd and entry management measures at all entrances

In addition, retailers are responsible to do their best to make sure shopping is the safest it can be. Even so, OSHA reports that 9 out of 10 customer accidents result from some form of negligence on the part of the storeowner.

According to the National Retail Federation, the most common store accidents include:

  • Wet floors – Floors may be wet from spills or from rain near the entrance.
  • Dirty floors – Floors may have trash or fallen merchandise on them.
  • Improper signage – Recently mopped floors may not have the proper “Wet Floor” signs.
  • Merchandise/displays – Many times the aisles are filled with displays of stacked merchandise that could fall causing injuries.
  • Elevators/escalators – Defective or malfunctioning escalators and elevators could result in personal injuries.
  • Cracked or broken flooring – Uneven flooring could result in someone slipping and falling.

If you are injured while shopping, you will need evidence to prove negligence. It’s important to do the following:

  • Seek immediate medical help, even if you believe you didn’t suffer serious injuries
  • Call the manager or storeowner and ask to complete a department store incident report and ask for a copy.
  • Get the contact information for any witnesses to the incident
  • Take photographs or video of the scene of the accident
  • Keep all clothing and any personal belongings from the time of the accident, as they may be necessary as evidence.


Being aware of the possible risks during the holidays is a good way to be proactive and make your season safer. No one should have to deal with an accident during the holiday season, especially one caused by negligence. If you or a loved one are injured due to a shopping or a car accident, seek advice from attorneys experienced in personal injury cases and premise liability laws.

About the Author

Richard L. Purtz, managing partner of Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, emphasizes personal injury, wrongful death and insurance claims litigation. He is rated “AV” Preeminent  Civil Trial Attorney, which is the highest ranking under the  Martindale-Hubbell  Peer Review Rating system and is listed as one of Florida’s “Super Lawyers.”

19Nov 2019
Andrea Smith

Andrea SmithIn October, Southwest Florida Business Observer’s annual 40 Under 40 issue recognized area entrepreneurs, executives and community leaders selected from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Tampa Bay, Lakeland, Sarasota and Manatee. The area business magazine has selected 40 up-and-coming stars from nominations since 2014. In her profile in the magazine, partner Andrea Pleimling Smith said the best business lesson she’s ever learned was “the importance of client satisfaction — even with all the advertising we do, most of our clients come to us through referrals.”



07Nov 2019

John B .Cechman PhotoAttorney John B. Cechman served his country and now serves his clients

More than 50 years ago, John Cechman was called to fight for his country in the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star for his service.

Today, he fights for his neighbors as a partner and personal injury attorney at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A

His military career started at the West Point United States Military Academy in New York where he was recruited to play football from high school in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. It was football, not necessarily the Army, that attracted him to West Point.

“The campus was beautiful, and it was a good education,” he said.

He played for the freshman and junior varsity teams until he failed a European history class and his grade point average dipped below the requirement, forcing him to leave.

“Had I stayed, I would have played on the big Army team,” he said.

He continued his education at New Mexico University, and joined the advanced Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to help pay for his college expenses.

After Cechman graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics in 1967, he became a second lieutenant in the army, completing Infantry Basic Officer Leader course in Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird in Baltimore.

It was there that some friends talked to him about practicing law. From Fort Carson, Colorado, he was sent to Quang Tri Province just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in South Vietnam. As Agent in Charge of Military Intelligence, he was stationed with the 1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division from July 1968 to July 1969.

“It was difficult,” he said. “There were good days and bad days. It’s a year I would not want to duplicate. That’s why I think vets who have seen combat don’t ever talk about it. If you haven’t lived through it, you can’t possibly imagine it.”

While he admits his grades in school were not always the best in his younger years, he understood the legal system and considered a future practicing law. He did well on the law school entrance exam and applied to the then-recently established law school at Florida State University (FSU) while still in Vietnam.

“I heard about law from friends in Baltimore,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to stay in the Army. I had never been to Florida, so I went straight to FSU.”

On a break from law school, he drove to Naples to visit the family of another student. On the way, he stopped in Fort Myers to look into a job that founders of Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz had posted on an FSU bulletin board. He pulled up to the office on his motorcycle and has been representing motorcyclists ever since.

John Cechman's medals

His military medals hang next to a large quilted American flag over his desk: Bronze Star, National Defense Service medal, Vietnam Service medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Expert Badge & Auto Rifle Bar, and Marksman Bar & Pistol Bar.

“I tell my sons that the military is a great character builder,” he said. “There are no excuses. You get the job done. Yes sir. No sir. It makes you an overall better person. If I have a case, I’ve got to do it right and on time. It translates not only to the law but any job, any occupation.”

Bronze Star Medal

Throughout the year, members of the firm collect clothing and supplies for veterans to be donated through the Cape Coral office of U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

“A lot of veterans need help, especially since in combat PTSD is a real thing,” Cechman says. “I’m proud of the fact the firm does what it can to assist vets.”

Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, P.A., has offered professional legal services to Southwest Florida clients since 1962. The firm’s experienced attorneys are board certified by the Florida Bar, and their areas of practice include personal injury and accidents, fall and premises liability, wrongful death, motorcycle and truck accidents, medical malpractice, real estate, commercial litigation, construction law, wills, estate planning and administration, social security law and criminal law. With offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Lehigh Acres and Port Charlotte, attorneys can be reached by calling 239-334-1146 or visiting our Contact Us page.

16Oct 2019

You can still support Walk like MADDWalk Like MADD to support Mothers Against Drunk Driving Sept. 28 included 162 runners, 191 walkers, 18 dogs, 65 volunteers and two goats who took 3.514 million steps. But it’s not over. Donations to the event will remain open until Nov. 28 to reach the goal of $60,000.

You can still join 32 teams and 16 financial sponsors to help support victims and fund awareness programs for 15,000 students a year. (In fact, donations are welcome all year long.)
Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman Rice & Purtz has sponsored the walk for the past two years and has committed to sponsoring next year’s walk planned for Sept. 26, 2020.

“As a personal injury firm, we deal with terrible tragedies from drunk driving, and this is really our chance to give back to MADD, help MADD help those who are involved as victims as well as try to prevent drunk driving,” said Christopher Smith, partner and firms team leader for the event. The team through individual participants raised $1,500 in addition to the firm’s presenting sponsorship.

The event, which included honoring survivors, 48 victims and 79 members of law enforcement, featured canine Deputy Chance and search and rescue dogs Maggie and Mercy, important in drunk or drugged driving crashes because the dogs can search for the offender and help find victims who may have been ejected from their vehicle.

Established in 2013, MADD SWFL provides free programs to over 15,000 people annually in the Southwest Florida community through its underage drinking prevention initiatives, its campaign to eliminate drunk driving, tie one on for safety campaign and DUI offender education. In addition, the local MADD chapter supports law enforcement, hosting an annual law enforcement recognition program and free DUI training benefiting over 300 local law enforcement professionals. Most importantly, MADD SWFL supports victims and survivors of drunk, drugged and substance-impaired driving crashes, providing over 1,500 free services annually, facilitates grief and community groups and holds an annual a tribute event.

CLICK HERE for information on how to donate.