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14-year-old boy with Down Syndrome died after choking on hot dog at theater in 2014

Posted at 10:10 AM, Aug 24, 2016

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Bakersfield's Reading Cinemas stemming from the death of a 14-year-old boy in October 2014. 

The complaint filed by attorney Timothy M. Osborn says the 14-year-old, who had Down Syndrome, was attending a movie with his grandfather, Ricardo Mendiola, on October 30, 2014.

The teen was eating a hot dog while watching the movie and 'began to exhibit signs of choking due to what appeared to be a blocked airway'. 

The complaint says Mendiola tried to stop the choking but was unable to 'because he could not see in the dark theatre and was unable to hear due to the high volume of the movie's audio'.

The document says Reading Cinemas employees arrived and Mendiola 'begged and pleaded' to have them turn on the lights and turn down the audio so he could find out what was causing the teen's choking and assist him.

The complaint says the Reading Cinemas employees 'callously' refused to turn on the lights or turn down the audio because company policies did not allow them to interrupt the movie once it starts. 

The document says Mendiola tried to help his grandson but without being able to see or hear, the teen suffocated.

A hearing regarding the case will be held in November.