A lawsuit filed by the family of Glee actress Naya Rivera against Ventura County over her drowning in July 2020 has been privately settled, according to the lawyer handling her case.
The 33-year-old was boating with her four-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey on Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, when she drowned.
Her body was found floating in the lake five days later, and her death was officially ruled an accident.
Amjad M Khan of Brown, Neri Smith & Khan told Sky News: “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 lawsuit for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress was filed by the family against Ventura County, California, on behalf of her son.
He was represented by his father, Ryan Dorsey, and the estate represented by the late actress’s business manager.
The family also sued the 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, and saying Rivera’s death was “utterly preventable”.
They said the rented pontoon boat 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.
However, Ventura County officials said the death wasn’t their fault, and said the actress had declined to wear a life jacket. They said the rental agent had put the life jacket in the boat nevertheless.
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Rivera – who was understood to be a strong swimmer – was best known for playing Santana Lopez on TV musical-comedy Glee from 2009 to 2015.
A post-mortem report at the time said that she had helped her son back into the boat after swimming, and he had noticed her “put her arm up in the air and [yell] ‘help'” before she “disappeared into the water”.
The family’s initial legal complaint says Josey tried to find a rope to help his mother, called for help and cried alone in the boat, until he was found more than an hour later by a PMC boat leasing agent.
After Rivera’s body was found, Sheriff Bill Ayub had said Josey told detectives the pair went swimming, and she boosted him on to the deck before he looked back to see her disappear under the water.
The sheriff said their theory was that the boat drifted as they swam and she “mustered enough energy to get her son on board, but not enough to save herself”.
The family told E! News in a statement that Josey, who is now six and lives with his father, “will receive just compensation for having to endure the drowning of his beloved mother at Lake Piru.
They went on: “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 lawsuit also stated that at least 26 other people have died in the lake since the recreational facilities opened.
The court is scheduled to approve the settlement later this month.