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After fatal drug overdoses at rave, parents of dead 19-year-old file lawsuit

After fatal drug overdoses at rave, parents of dead 19-year-old file lawsuit
A lawsuit contends that Katie Dix, 19, could have been saved with timely medical treatment. (California Department of Motor Vehicles)

The parents of a 19-year-old college student who fatally overdosed on drugs at a rave at the Los Angeles County fairgrounds last August have filed a lawsuit against the event organizer, Live Nation, and the venue operator, the Los Angeles County Fair Assn.

Filed by Mark and Pamela Dix, the parents of Cal State Channel Islands student Katie Dix, the lawsuit accuses Live Nation and the Fair Assn. of negligence. It alleges that they should have known that the Hard Summer rave would promote "widespread illegal and illicit activity," such as the use of banned drugs like Ecstasy.

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The lawsuit, filed last Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, said the defendants "breached their duties to protect" rave attendees from people distributing or consuming illegal drugs.

The lawsuit also named Los Angeles County, which owns most of the fairgrounds, and the city of Pomona, as defendants. The suit accused them of negligence in creating, or allowing others to create, "a dangerous condition of its public property."

The suit also alleges that the raves are a public nuisance and harmful to public health. County officials have said 49 people were taken by ambulance from the fairgrounds to seven emergency rooms across the region, which one official called an "unusually high number of transports" for a single event.

(Los Angeles Times)

According to the Los Angeles County coroner, Dix died of multiple drug intoxication after she was found unresponsive. The lawsuit described Dix, a graduate of Coronado High School in San Diego County, as a "lively and vivacious student about to enter her second year of college."

Dix collapsed after ingesting a drug she thought to be "pure 'Molly'" at the event, the lawsuit said, referring to another name for the drug Ecstasy. The suit alleges that the rave was overcrowded and understaffed and that the medical response to Dix was delayed by half an hour, during which she fell into cardiac arrest.

By the time she arrived at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, she was non-verbal, with saliva bubbling at the corners of her mouth, the lawsuit said. The suit contends that Dix could have been saved with timely medical treatment.

Representatives of Live Nation, the Fair Assn. and Los Angeles County declined to comment. A call to the Pomona city attorney's office was not returned. A manager for a fifth defendant, Huntington Beach-based Staff Pro, which was named in the lawsuit as providing event staffing and security, declined to comment.

There have been at least 24 confirmed drug-related deaths nationwide since 2006 among people who went to raves organized by Los Angeles-area companies. Twelve have died in Southern California – four in San Bernardino County and eight in Los Angeles County – and five in the Las Vegas area.

Emergency room doctors have identified a couple of reasons why Ecstasy use at large raves can lead to severe illness, coma and death. One big problem is that Ecstasy can cause body temperatures to shoot up as high as 109 degrees, causing organ failure.

While dehydration can pose a problem, so can drinking too much water, causing sodium levels to crash and triggering seizures that block oxygen to the brain.

Another woman, 18-year-old UCLA student Tracy Nguyen of West Covina, also died after attending the same rave. Nguyen's death was caused by an Ecstasy overdose, the coroner said in February.

Following the deaths of Dix and Nguyen, the Fair Assn. said it had no plans to host any raves at the site in 2016.

Hard Summer is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, which is in San Bernardino County.

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Twitter: @ronlin

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