Ventura County named in Naya Rivera wrongful death suit

Actress Naya Rivera on the Glee panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con in San Diego, California. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.
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The ex-partner of Naya Rivera recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three defendants, including Ventura County, alleging dangerous conditions led to the drowning of the former Santa Clarita Valley resident and “Glee” star at Lake Piru earlier this year.

The lawsuit alleges that the county, along with United Water Conservation District and Parks and Recreation Management, has historically failed to properly warn Lake Piru visitors about the dangers of swimming in the lake through proper signage, as well as what type of safety equipment would be needed while out on the water. 

“Tragically (26 people) have drowned at Lake Piru since its recreational facilities opened (in December 1950),” the complaint filed in Ventura County Superior Court reads. “This deadly history is a direct result of the dangerous conditions that occur at Lake Piru.” 

The lawsuit was filed by Rivera’s estate, the actress’ business manager and Ryan Dorsey, the father of Rivera’s 4-year-old son who was on the pontoon boat on July 8 just before Rivera drowned. 

The lawsuit states that Rivera’s son was not able to pull his mother into the boat due to harsh conditions on the lake, which can daily include strong currents, low visibility, high winds, changing water depths and underwater geography, as well as other dangerous elements. 

Rivera’s body was recovered by search-and-rescue personnel five days after her disappearance. 

The lawsuit also alleges that the county attempted to discredit Rivera’s death by releasing the autopsy and toxicology reports to the media in the days following her death, implying she was intoxicated at the time of her drowning, in an effort to “distract from their own negligence,” the complaint reads. 

“Based on the autopsy findings, known circumstances surrounding the death, and absence of anatomic or toxicological explanation for the death, as currently understood, the cause of death is drowning, and the manner of death is (an) accident,” the complaint quotes from the autopsy.

The lawsuit includes three causes of action, which include wrongful death, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

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