WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The ex-husband of late Glee star Naya Rivera, Ryan Dorsey, is suing Ventura County for wrongful death on behalf of their 5-year-old son Josey.
- The lawsuit claims that the pontoon boat that Rivera and her son rented lacked safety measures such as flotation or lifesaving devices, rope, a radio, an anchor, or a ladder, among others.
- Rivera’s autopsy report and toxicology report indicated drowning as the cause of death and ruled her passing an accident.
Ryan Dorsey, the ex-husband of late Glee star Naya Rivera, is suing California’s Ventura County for wrongful death on behalf of their 5-year-old son Josey.
The lawsuit cites the county, the United Water Conservation District, and the county’s Parks Management Company (PMC) for “utterly preventable drowning.” The paperwork was submitted on Tuesday by Ryan and Rivera’s estate.
The lawsuit, which was viewed by Yahoo Entertainment, claims that the pontoon boat that Rivera and her son rented “was not equipped with a safely accessible ladder, adequate rope, an anchor, a radio, or any security mechanisms to prevent swimmers from being separated from their boats.”
It adds, “Disturbingly, later inspection revealed that the boat was not even equipped with any flotation or lifesaving devices,” which is “in direct violation of California law.” The lawsuit accuses the PMC of renting out an old, unrefurbished boat that clearly did not comply with Coast Guard safety standards.
The document also points out that there’s “not a single sign anywhere” at Lake Piru to warn against strong currents and high winds. It added that “at least 26 other people” have drowned since the opening of the recreational facilities and swimming has been prohibited.
The lawsuit also cited the defendants’ “subsequent attempts to discredit Naya in the media and distract from their own negligence.”
Rivera’s autopsy report and toxicology report indicated drowning as the cause of death and ruled her passing an accident. The documents also added that the actress was a “good swimmer,” but the winds that afternoon reached as high as 21 mph.
The lawsuit said that Rivera and Josey were swimming when the boat was carried away. After getting back on the boat, Josey heard her mother cry for help as she struggled to stay afloat and get back to the boat. He then searched in vain for rope but saw that his mother 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,” the lawsuit continued.
According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Josey informed investigators that his mother “boosted him” back onto the boat. It’s possible “that she mustered enough energy to get her son back on to the boat, but not enough to save herself,” the sheriff added.