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Movie Theater Negligence Results in Choking Fatality

Osborn Law Demonstrates Gross Negligence Using Reconstruction Animation

When the staff of a movie theater was unable to handle an emergency situation, a family outing turned quickly into a tragic fatality that could have been - and should have been - avoided. 

A young boy, at the movies with his grandfather, was enjoying a hot dog before the start of the movie when it became lodged in the back of his throat, obstructing his airway. The boy's grandfather, who was trained in CPR, quickly sprang into action to try and dislodge the obstruction. Although he immediately asked the movie theater staff to turn the lights on and stop the film so that he could see and hear properly while he attempted to save his grandson's life, it became clear that the staff members could not fulfill his request, as the lights in the theater were apparently in disrepair. Because of this, the boy’s grandfather was unable to visualize the obstruction, dislodge the food, or utilize his CPR and emergency training to help his grandson.

When fellow patrons in the theater saw what was happening, they quickly got up to help, but they were unable to communicate because of the loud audio that was still playing in the theater. And, because the theater's manager was too slow to respond to the request for help, this boy's grandfather was tragically prevented from saving his grandson - and the boy did not survive due to oxygen deprivation.

Tim Osborn of Osborn Law took on the task of representing the decedent's family against the large theater company and its plethora of defense attorneys and insurance adjusters. The defendants denied any liability for the boy’s death, and refused to admit that the dysfunctional lighting had contributed to the incident. To demonstrate the defense’s culpability, Tim enlisted the help of DK Global to create a reconstruction animation that would illustrate how the theater’s lack of action and policies hindered the attempts to save the boy’s life, and explain the anatomy of the boy’s airway when it became obstructed. This case won a Golden Advocate for the Most Worthy Cause award in 2019.

Reconstruction Animation Depicts Asphyxiation and Negligence

The presentation begins with a 3D model of the theater and the boy enjoying his food with his grandfather. Then, the tragic situation quickly unfolds when the boy begins choking on his food. Viewers are able to see an anatomical view of the obstruction in his airway, as well as multiple attempts by the grandfather to save the boy using the Heimlich maneuver. Due to insufficient and inoperable lighting, the grandfather was unable to use the finger sweep method, an attempt to clear the obstruction by placing a finger in the mouth of a person and remove the food. Transcribed text from the defense’s deposition was also used in the presentation, demonstrating that the theater had no emergency policies in place, no emergency defibrillators, and taht employees were not trained in handling critical situations. The presentation was shown to the defense during the deposition of Tim’s retained emergency medicine and airway management expert, and it helped the defense to realize the reaction a jury might have if the presentation was shown in trial.

Tim was able to mediate and secure a very favorable settlement for the family of the boy just before trial.

Golden Advocate winner, Tim Osborn, started his one-man practice in 2008 and has quickly grown, becoming one of the most successful personal injury practices in the San Joaquin Valley. Tim is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, one of the most respected associations of trial lawyers in the country, and is AV Preeminent Rated By Martindale Hubbell. Tim has continuously gone above and beyond for his clients and has been recognized as a Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2015-2019. Tim’s motto is “Excellence in obtaining justice for injured”, and he continuously abides by it while tirelessly advocating for his clients in the face of large insurance companies and corporations.

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"On some level psychologically, when the other side first becomes aware that you have somebody like DK Global involved, and they see the quality of the visuals that DK produces, whether they admit it or not - it sends a message."

Tim Osborn - Osborn Law


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