Naya Rivera’s family has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Ventura County over the actress’ tragic drowning.
According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, a settlement was reached by the ‘Glee’ star’s estate and the father of her young son, Josey Hollis Dorsey. As you know, the 4-year old boy was with his mother on the rented pontoon boat on lake Piru, when she reportedly drowned.
Naya Rivera’s Death Sparks Lawsuit
We broke the story, Naya’s untimely death sparked a lawsuit by the family against Ventura County, California on behalf of her son. The 4-year-old is represented by his father, Ryan Dorsey, and the estate is being represented by the late actress’ business manager. The family sued the county, along with United Water Conservation District and Parks and Recreation Management, accusing them of failing to warn visitors of the danger of boating and swimming in the lake.
In the initial complaint, the family claimed the boat rented by the ‘Glee’ star for a fun day on the water with her son, was not equipped with flotation or lifesaving devices, a ladder, rope, anchor, or any equipment designed to keep swimmers from being separated from their boat. In their response, Ventura County officials claimed the death wasn’t their fault, considering the actress decided on her own not to wear a life jacket. At the time, they claimed the actress was “offered a life vest” but she “declined to wear” it.
Were Life Vests Provided To Naya Rivera?
“Ms. Rivera was offered a life vest by Parks Management Company’s boat rental agent, which Ms. Rivera declined to wear, after which the rental agent ‘put the vest in the rental boat,” a legal response read.
“While Naya and Josey were swimming, the boat started to be carried away — likely by the current and wind, which gusted up to 21 miles per hour that afternoon,” an attorney for the family stated.
He continued, “Josey, who was closer, managed to get back on the boat by his own volition and braced himself on the boat, which was rocking back and forth forcefully in the current and wind. Josey knew Naya was still in the water and heard her cry, ‘Help! Help!’ in her struggle to get back to the boat and avoid drowning. Josey searched in vain for a rope to help his mother get back on the boat. Josey then looked back at the water for his mother and saw that Naya had disappeared. Josey yelled for help and cried alone in the boat until he was found more than an hour later by a PMC boat leasing agent.”
We’ve obtained an exclusive statement regarding the settlement, from Amjad M. Khan of Brown Neri Smith & Khan, who handled the case for the family.
“In Josey Hollis Dorsey and the Estate of Naya Rivera’s litigation relating to the drowning death of Naya Rivera on July 8, 2020, all parties have entered into a global settlement, which is subject to approval by the Ventura Superior Court on March 16. Through this settlement, Josey will receive just compensation for having to endure the drowning of his beloved mother at Lake Piru. Though the tragic loss of Josey’s mother can never truly be overcome, we are very pleased that the monetary settlement will significantly assist Josey with his life beyond this tragedy.”
The Lake’s Deadly History
The lawsuit noted the lake has a “deadly history” and reportedly is the site of at least 26 other deaths. Since the recreational facilities opened, the accidents have ranged from children to fit adults and elders, some wearing life jackets and others not.
Naya’s body was discovered 5 days after the incident, and her death has officially been ruled an “accident.” Obviously, the suit included damages for the young boy, with the family saying he has “suffered substantial economic and non-economic damages as a result of Naya’s death, including financial support that Naya would have contributed to Josey, her only child.” Also, they were suing for funeral and burial expenses.
How Much Was The Settlement?
At this point, the amount being paid by any party in the case is unknown, and details of the settlement are confidential. We are guessing it’s a substantial settlement considering a compromise was agreed upon so early in this case. It should be noted, any compromise like this is subject to court approval. But, in most cases, it is a formality.
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