Settlement reached in movie theater choking death lawsuit

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A wrongful death lawsuit of a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome who choked at a movie theater and died in 2014 was settled Wednesday.

The terms of the settlement are confidential, though the Mendiola family — the plaintiffs in the case — are “pleased with the outcome,” said Tim Osborn, attorney for the Mendiola family.

“I’m so proud of them for seeing this through,” Osborn said of the Mendiola family. “They sincerely hope this does not happen to someone else in the future.”

Chris Faenza, attorney for Reading International Cinemas, declined to comment on the settlement.

On Oct. 30, 2014, Jacob Mendiola went with his grandfather Ricardo Mendiola to see “The Book of Life,” an animated children’s movie, at Reading Cinemas in Bakersfield. Jacob choked on a hot dog, causing his airway to become blocked, and his heart stopped beating, Osborn said.

Ricardo Mendiola was CPR certified, as were two other patrons at the theater who began to try helping Jacob Mendiola, but “it was dark and loud,” and nobody could administer treatment to the boy because of the conditions in the theater, Osborn said.

Osborn alleged that employees at the movie theater neither had sufficient training to handle any type of medical emergency, nor did the movie theater have sufficient lighting to ensure patrons were safe within the auditoriums.

Osborn said he learned Reading International management withheld video footage from the day Jacob and Ricardo went to the theater and even denied its existence during depositions. Employees were told that “if a patron has an injury or an emergency, do not call 911 and do not apologize.”

Reading International management has denied these allegations.

Click here to view the original article on the Bakersfield Californian website

Originally Published on the The Bakersfield Californian