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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Friday, March 15, 2002 3:51 PM
First off this is a terrible tragedy and I do feel sorry for the family BUT I don't know how you can hold the park solely responsible. Does anyone know how this asthma attack was induced? Was it from a ride, smoke, or just out of the blue? I know that when I have asthma attacks which I have had plenty they usually can be treated by relaxing and taking an inhalation treatment. I know for a fact that even though his inhaler was empty it probably wouldn't have done much good because the medicine needs to be inhaled into the lungs for it to work and when your having an asthma attack you usually can't take a deep breath. So this leads me to beleive why didn't the kid go to the hospital instead of a pharmacy? Also how did the kid get out of the park usually when you have an asthma attack you can barely walk. It all just doesn't make sense or add up. I don't care how inexperianced or busy the paramedics were if the kid was really bad they would have called an ambulance and taken him directly to a hospital.

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Friday, March 15, 2002 4:37 PM

Jim: I've seen many patients like your daughter who have considerable difficulties despite the diligent use of medications. But we see many (particularly children and teenagers of disadvantaged backgrounds) who do not know 1.) what medications they are taking; 2.) how they are supposed to be used; and 3.) the consequences of not taking them. If you are educated about asthma, you greatly maximize your chances of avoiding unfortunate consequences like this.

So, yes, many patients can avoid problems if medications are used correctly. Not always, but you can (I never said "always" by the way - please read carefully). This is why we spend so much time trying to educate patients about their disease - just an extra ten minutes spent with a patient really can mean the difference between life and death. I'm sorry you took me so literally; furthermore, I am sorry you have to take such a belligerent tone with me when I'm only trying to make a point that many patients do not give this disease the attention it deserves. If you've seen what I've seen you would understand this.

I hope you will someday understand that not all people are as fortunate as your daughter; many inner city youths cannot even get their albuterol inhalers refilled because parental interest in the health of their children is nonexistent. Many indigent patients cannot understand how to use medications (nonetheless read the instructions), and by far even more neglect their health maintenance examinations for no apparent reason at all (and this applies to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds). I am glad there are parents like yourself who have the interest and means to care for their children, but the unfortunate reality is much the opposite. So, yes, I'll keep on educating patients about asthma (despite the fact that you think me an incompetent). If I make a difference in one life, great - I've done my job. I wish your daughter the best of health in the ongoing treatment of her asthma.

Friday, March 15, 2002 6:45 PM


Please reread your previous statement. It places the blame squarely on asthmatics themselves. While the word "always" was not used, you do say, quote,"This can ALL be avoided...." (My caps) The meaning is the same.

I certainly agree that not all asthma patients are as fortunate as my daughter. Our medical and social systems often throw a little medication at them and then forget them. In some cases the patients are to blame for their lack of knowledge. In some cases a failure to make any real attempt to educate them is to blame. In some cases a system that makes it financially difficult for them to follow up is to blame. In some cases people who do everything right still have problems. In many cases, all may be to blame. I do not intend to indict medical professionals here. The real problem is more often with the systems than the individuals.

You are also assuming that the person in question was not diligent in the use of his medication. Do you know that he was not? Do you have any information on his medications other than his rescue inhaler? The report indicates that he did have his rescue inhaler with him, but it was empty. Do you know that it was empty because he failed to check it? It's difficult to tell exactly how much is left. Shaking it the best technique that I have found but it is not exact and depends on good high frequency hearing and experience. The float test doesn't work with any accuracy at all. Do you also know whether or not he was having trouble getting his insurance to cover refills and was having to get by till his refill date? Of course, the inhaler may have also been empty because he used it and was still having an attack. The story doesn't say.

I agree that the park was not solely to fault in this case, but neither apparently was the victem. I do not know enough details about this case to express any opinions about the amount of the award.

Saturday, March 16, 2002 6:50 AM
janfrederick's avatar

Acyually, I've had a few occassions where my rescue inhaler did NOT work. That's when I ended up in the hospital.

Jim is right. We don't know enough about the case. He might have not been so bad off at the park. If it seemed his life in danger at the park, it wouldn't take a paramedic to call 911.

Saturday, March 16, 2002 5:03 PM
Six Flags medical techs were responsible for not providing the inhaler medication to the young man rather than tell him to go to the local pharmacy for a refill. If he was bad enough for them to give him oxygen in the first place, then they were responsible to make sure he was given his meds or transported by ambulance to the hospital for treatment. It doesn't matter if he seemed better or not, they owed a duty as medical providers to make sure there was no immediate danger to the young man. They failed to do this so Six Flags is responsible for his death!


Saturday, March 16, 2002 6:29 PM

Six Flags seems be having many accidents involving large amounts of settlements. It is unfortunate that the person in this dicussion died because of the condition he had. I do think that the amusement park was partially at fault for the death however. A guest aparently aproached someone at first aid and complained of not feeling well. The person at the first aid should have taken a brief history of the person and should have used judgement on whether or not to let the person go or to call for outside medical assistance. In this case the person who was not feeling well had asthma and right there and then something shoud have went off in the head of the first aid attendant. Hey, this guy has a breathing problem and does not have any inhalers. I am going to give him oxygen and keep an eye on him until the ambulance I called for arrives.

I use to work at an amusment park and was trained that if a park patron was not feeling well for anything and complained to me about this fact, I had to call first aid. First aid would open up a case log with my name on and the person being treated had to sign the case form upon leaving the first aid center. The case log was done for a couple of reasons, the biggest one being liability issues. The fact that a settlement was issued by Six Flags the lawyers, at Six Flags, must have felt the same way as described above.

Six flags needs to beef up their maintenance and operating procedures. Six flags recently had another settlement for over 4 million dollars involving last years loop hang ups. Apparently a train stopped right during the middle of a loop leaving the riders upside down for more than three hours. The reason for the sudden stop was do to the emegency breaking system kicking in after one of the rear wheels came off do to a loosened bolt. There is absolutely no excuse for that ever happening. Rides are supposed to be checked twice daily minimum. The wheel assemble on coaster trains - my gosh were the maintenance personnel on coffee break during their scheduled ride checks.........No excuse for this type if incidence - none what-so-ever.


Sunday, March 17, 2002 9:09 AM
Again, we don't know all of the details, but if Six Flags settled without a verdict for $1.9 million they must have felt that their case did not look good. This is not a small payment to make a suit go away.
Sunday, March 17, 2002 1:57 PM
A question for the lawyers out there. Usually when a case is settled for a large amount like this the settlement is confidential. Does anyone know why the amount is public?
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 11:28 PM

I just happen to be thinking about my cousin, Keynon Lewis and I googled his name and got this story about when he passed away. Well to answer everyones questions. We were attending Great America with our church youth department. First of all to set the record straight, Keynon never smoked a day in his life.

Secondly, when we walked Keynon to the First Aid in Great America they took him off the oxygen and gave a lady from our church directions to a pharmacy instead of telling the paramedics that they had on site to take him to the hospital as we requested. But guess what...The ambulance couldnt leave because they had to be there for a movie they had happen to be there shooting on that day!

When they arrived at the pharmacy, they didnt give my cousin an inhaler because he did not have a doctors note.

Keep in mind, cell phones were not involved. So we waited and waited in Great Americas parking lot for answers and waiting to hear from them. So by that time, one of our church members had to be back at home (Danville, IL) to report for work for 3rd shift. So we had to leave and head home still unaware of the situation. Keep in mind there is no cell phones and that is a two and a half hour from Gurnee. So imagine the surprise we had when we reached home. That my cousin had passed away.

Thanks to the ones who submitted their concern for our family. But yes my aunt was awarded the money without a problem because of all of the wrong doing that was treated to us.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 11:30 PM

To answer your question, they gave us a wheelchair to wheel him to the car and gave us directions to the nearest pharmacy. Also there was an ambulance on sight but couldnt leave due to a movie being filmed at Great America that day. Please read my post that I have submitted.


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