Six Flags Great America settles $1.9 million lawsuit for asthma death

Posted Thursday, March 14, 2002 4:18 AM | Contributed by beast7369

Six Flags Great America settled a $1.9 million lawsuit with the family of Kenyon Lewis, 18, who died after paramedics at Six Flags allegedly failed to provide him with proper medical care during an asthma attack Aug. 8, 1997.

Read more from the Daily Herald.

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 5:03 AM
"Lewis' condition worsened after he arrived at the pharmacy, Kornak said, and despite the best efforts of Gurnee Fire Department paramedics, he died less than five minutes after leaving the amusement park"

Wow...the pharmacy must have been close....in the parking lot perhaps. This sounds strange. I don't think the park paramedics would have told him to go if he seemed really bad off to them. It says here that his condition worsened when he got to the pharmacy. How could they have known that it was going to worsen. You don't want to give everyone with an attack drugs. Also, the patient must have had some say in the matter.

I have asthma; if I felt like I really needed help, I would have signalled or communicated it somehow. I don't know if blaming the park is correct. Then again, the article was a bit lacking in details.

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"I'll bet that thing hits 5 Gs going through that loop.....faaar ooouut!" *** This post was edited by janfrederick on 3/14/2002. ***

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 5:08 AM
That must be a horrible way to die.
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Thursday, March 14, 2002 5:28 AM

I really dont know that much about asthma but why would the man have an empty inhaler with him at the park? Wouldnt he come prepared to refill it or have a second one so he doesnt run out?

I really feel bad for him and his family but is the park really that negligent that they would settle for 1.9 million?

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"The Peoples Elbow" or "The Spinaroonie?. Cant decide which is the most electrifying move in sports entertainment!!! LOL

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 5:36 AM
well, as bad as it sounds, SF probably was saving money by settling. I'd hate to think how much they had already spent in legal fees trying to resolve the case....and then you never know what will come out of the case in terms of a judgement. My guess is SF just wanted to dispose of the case, have it "settled" and pay what really amounts to not THAT much money. Sure, $1.9M sounds like a lot to us, but to SF it really isn't...
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Thursday, March 14, 2002 5:37 AM

My own daughter always checks hers before we go to a park, but people do forget.

Because of the possibility of sudden death, asthmatics are normally given red line treatment in an emergency room. The priority assigned is basically the same as a heart attack. Based on that it does sound like the paramedics were negligent in their treatment. Remember that the paramedics referred to here were apparently park employees. The Gurnee paramedics only became involved at the pharmacy as I read the article.

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 6:09 AM

Ok, this MAY sound callous, so before I go any further I'll just state that I DO feel for the family.

However, having said that, I also have to say that I just can't understand how someone could go out without their proper meds if their condition is that serious. Maybe it's because with my condition (Type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes) I'm constantly reminded each and every day that I have it, and I CAN'T forget about it, whereas the asthmatics I've known can go for a long time between episodes. Still, if the inhaler was empty or near empty, that indicates that it WAS in use, and therefore that "reminder" was there.

This is a horrible incident, and Six Flags settling indicates they felt it was the proper thing to do (even if just for their bottom line), but I'm not sure the blame should go strictly to the park.

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--Greg
"The collective women in your life have more baggage than a Samsonite factory..."
My page

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 6:33 AM
why oh why do all these tragic things happen at Great America? a girl's toe chopped off, this guy died (which I didn't hear about until now), and wasn't there some girl who was kidnapped at the park? I'd say that Great America has had more than its fair share of tragedies.

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-Bob
Knott's Berry Farm Cuba ~South Park
"Your proctologist called, he found your head!" ~Jerry "The King" Lawler

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 6:53 AM
SFGA the most dangerous park on the planet..?

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---- IGGY .

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 7:47 AM
lol. I am beginning to think this park is jinxed. :(

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"The Peoples Elbow" or "The Spinaroonie?. Cant decide which is the most electrifying move in sports entertainment!!! LOL

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 8:14 AM

Gregleg:

As you said, asthmatics may be more likely to forget since many don't need their rescue inhalers every day. It can also be difficult at times to estimate just how many puffs are left in an inhaler since the level is not visible. You have to shake it and listen to estimate how much is left. This is further complicated by insurance companies that try to make sure you are out of medication before they refill your prescription. I've had to pay for medications out of pocket because of this.

Where the real problem for SF comes in is they had the trained personnel, they had the medication, they failed to administer it, and they failed to call an ambulance. Instead they sent a person at risk out to a pharmacy.

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 8:38 AM
There wasnt a kidnapping at Great America. Once the child was found in the south side of Chicago she stated she wasnt kidnapped but ran away on her own.
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Thursday, March 14, 2002 9:25 AM

Jim, without having been there, we don't know the condition of the guy when he was sent out. He could have been simply wheezing a lot, and then deteriorated when he got to the pharmacy.

Then again, if the guy was having enough trouble to warrant seeing the park paramedics, he probably was in pretty bad shape to begin with.

Still, if you know you have asthma, you need to stay on top of your medication. This probably wouldn't have happened if he had medicine to begin with.

Grey area responsibility-wise. They probably should have taken care of him if they could have.

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"I'll bet that thing hits 5 Gs going through that loop.....faaar ooouut!"

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 10:15 AM

Don't you just like the idea of giving someone money when their loved one dies? What good is it going to do? I do feel for the family. I know what it's like losing someone close to you. But they should sue for more than just wrongful death. Such as making the park get better medical services....

Also on my mind.... I don't know if this is right but it's what I have begun to take in about administering medication. There's a liability thing with some medical assistance. Oxygen is a given helper, anyone would know that, but they aren't sure of how much of the medication to administer. They could give to much (probably causing more harm) or too little, not being enough to help. That's probably why they told him to get to the pharmacy. Who knows? I'm not siding with anyone. Yeah, it angers me that this has happened. Things do happen that are out of our hands. It was human error. Possibly on both sides of the parties. Anyone understand what I'm saying?

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Shawn Bailes

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 10:33 AM

You touched on a good point...paramedics aren't doctors.

And asthma can be a tricky thing. 99.9 percent of the time, attacks can be controlled one way or another...glass of water, relaxation. Every so often, they spiral out of control and the situation becomes potentially lethal. I've had a couple friends die from asthma attacks. Their asthma was no more or less acute than mine. Truth is, you never know when something might happen to you.

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"I'll bet that thing hits 5 Gs going through that loop.....faaar ooouut!"

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 11:19 AM
I feel bad for the familys cause I suffer myself with asthma. The park should of sent him to a local ER. I find that some parks are well staffed with parametic personel and some are not. Im sure this park was fully staffed. In any case parks policys are diffrent. Ala, an employee wanting a asprin to help an twisted ankle that he caused by his own stupidity and that persons supervsior calling the parks emts who were there 10 seconds after he hung up (don't ask). Anyways some parks may not be as responsive, who knows how busy they were on that day? if there 1st aid station was packed then they needed to get things done quickly.

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Son of beast/top gun crew 2001 and 2002
life is like a coaster. you have ups and downs and when you least expect it you go upside down

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Thursday, March 14, 2002 12:02 PM
Chitown, I agree. This home park of mine has been through an endless stream of problems. And look at how many were guest induced. Yet, SFGAm still ends up shelling out millions. How did they even have enough $$ to build anything in the last 10 years!? I'm surprised nothing happened to me seeing that I usually visit during the times these incidents occur! (no I haven't witnessesed anything)
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Brad Sherman
Don't.....look.....back! The Headless Horseman awaits you in 2002!
Model coasters and rides
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Thursday, March 14, 2002 5:42 PM
Well you have to remember that this money doen't come from park coffers, but COMPANY funds, just like the park used COMPANY lawyers. $1.5 mil to them is like me buying a new Yugo for my birthday.

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Your village called. They're missing their idiot.

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Friday, March 15, 2002 12:39 PM

I must agree with those above who say that the victim shares in the responsibility. Having a serious disease like asthma requires that the patient know about his/her condition, how to avoid common triggers of the disease, and how to treat the disease should matters advance to a life-threatening stage. It's also unfortunate that doctors and health care professionals (who have dedicated their lives to health care and helping others) bear the brunt of blame in the way of law suits. This has become a national crisis for health care professionals.

Asthma is commonly misunderstood by many patients as not being a "real" medical condition. Since I am in the medical field, I see patients (on a daily basis) who grossly underestimate their condition and are, by all accounts, ignorant as how to prevent or treat it. It's a shame, too, because visits to the ER for "acute exacerbations of asthma" account for BILLIONS of dollars in costs yearly. This can all be avoided if a patient who suffers from asthma is compliant with his meds and understands how to use them. If this patient had severe asthma (which he/she presumably did), they would have been carrying with them the appropriate medications for treatment should something bad happen.

While I could never comment on whether the park EMT's were partially at fault (I would have to see the medical record and understand exactly what happened), and while I am hardly blaming the patient entirely for the unfortumate outcome, it should be stressed that you have to take responsibility for your health. It's not up to a doctor to do this, or a nurse, or an EMT. They are there to guide you. It doesn't matter if you have asthma, angina, diabetes, or high cholesterol. The decision to do what's right for you and your body is ultimately up to you. If you don't care about your health, it's hard for others in the health care profession to make up for it when things really take a turn for the worse.

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Friday, March 15, 2002 3:02 PM

Opthodoc said, "This can all be avoided if a patient who suffers from asthma is compliant with his meds and understands how to use them."

This statement is not only false, it is down right slanderous. Many asthma patients manage their conditions very closely and take their medicnes rigorously. Despite this they still have problems. My own daughter is under the regular care of a department chair at Johns Hopkins. She takes 11 medications daily to deal with her condition. Despite this, she is hospitalized on an average of once per year for her asthma. Her doctor admits that he does not fully understand what the issues are that cause her to have problems.

Yes, you have to take responsibility for your health. To claim that you won't have any problems if you do so is ridiculous.

If you are medical professional, you should certainly know better than to make statements such as you have. Obviously your ignorance of asthma and obstructive lung disease is profound

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