The Oaks Park AtmosFear Lawsuits Have Begun

“Throwing up, crying, passing out, and praying to God”: One rider details ordeal in court filing.

Staff and firefighters remove riders from AtmosFEAR. (Portland Fire and Rescue)

The mother of an AtmosFEAR rider sued Oaks Amusement Park today, after her 14-year-old daughter got stuck upside down for 25 minutes on June 14 on the malfunctioning pendulum ride.

“Riders were screaming for their lives, throwing up, crying, passing out, and praying to God for 25 minutes until the ride was finally lowered to the ground,” reads the complaint, filed by attorney Michael Fuller.

The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges that the Southeast Portland amusement park was negligent in “failing to maintain and operate its AtmosFEAR ride in a safe condition,” failing to have all the necessary tools on hand to promptly repair it when it broke, failing to warn riders of the dangers of the ride, and failing to keep the trapped riders updated during the incident.

Twenty-eight riders endured the ordeal. The park was evacuated and the incident has gotten international media attention.

The plaintiff asks for up to $125,000 and a jury trial.

“The investigation into the incident on AtmosFEAR is ongoing and I can’t comment at this point,” said Emily MacKay, Oaks Park’s marketing and events director, when asked about the lawsuit.

This is the first of what will likely be several lawsuits against the park. Three more AtmosFEAR riders have retained lawyer Jason Kafoury of Kafoury & McDougal for representation.

No major injuries were reported during the incident, though one rider with a preexisting condition was taken to the hospital, according to MacKay’s written statement last week.

The plaintiff is Amy Yannotta, the mother of one of the riders. In a phone interview, Yannotta walked WW through her daughter’s harrowing ride on AtmosFEAR last week.

Evie Yannotta organized the middle school graduation trip to Oaks Park for herself and the rest of the 11 kids in her eighth-grade class at a charter school in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. All of them were on AtmosFEAR when it broke except for one boy who stayed below to hold purses and shoot video.

“He took video right when the ride started, thinking this is going to be a fun memory,” Amy Yannotta says. Evie posted it on TikTok where it went viral, amassing about 30 million views.

Screenshot from Evie Yannotta's June 14 TikTok from AtmosFEAR ( Evie Yannotta)

Evie Yannotta is tough—a second-degree black belt in martial arts—and improving physically by the day.

All of the kids in the carpool back to the suburbs complained of headaches due to the intracranial pressure from being upside down for so long. Body aches, soreness in the shoulder and clavicle area, and neck bruises due to the harness were the main complaints on days two and three. On the ride, Evie and her friends cried and held hands but when they looked to each other for comfort, they all had “vampire bloodshot red eyes” due to blood pooling in their heads.

Far worse is the emotional trauma, Mom says.

“No 14-year-old should have a near-death experience like that on what should be a fun day celebrating eighth-grade graduation,” Yannotta says. The family is in the process of seeking trauma-informed therapy for Evie right away.

Yannotta said she decided to take legal action both in response to the malfunction but also due to Oaks Park’s response. So far, the amusement park has only given her a refund for Evie’s ride bracelet. A meeting on the midway soon after the riders were lowered down and medically checked out by Portland Fire & Rescue rubbed Yannotta the wrong way. The man identified himself as the Oaks Park CEO.

“They said, ‘We might be able to do a free day pass or something,’” Yannotta says. “And the kids are staring at him dumbfounded. Then he said, ‘We definitely hope you’ll come back to the park and we even hope you’ll go on the ride again.’ The kids laughed when he said that. These kids are still covered in vomit, traumatized and shaking. And he’s saying, ‘We hope that you come back and go on the ride’? I just could not believe it.”

Evie Yannotta does not plan to use her free day pass to Oaks Park.

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