Wrongful death lawsuit filed after 'Glee' star Naya Rivera's summer drowning
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A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on Tuesday on behalf of former “Glee” star Naya Rivera’s son after the actress’s body was found in a California lake in July.

Rivera’s ex-husband Ryan Dorsey filed the lawsuit on behalf of their 5-year-old son Josey Dorsey against Ventura County, Calif., the county’s Parks and Recreation Management and the United Water Conservation District.

The lawsuit alleges that the 33-year-old’s death, ruled an accidental drowning, was wrongful and a negligent infliction of emotional distress, after Josey was left alone on a boat on Lake Piru for more than an hour. 


The complaint argues that the actress’s death was “preventable,” but the pontoon she rented did not have the necessary features and equipment as required by the U.S. Coast Guard. 

"[The boat] 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," the complaint states. 

"Disturbingly, later inspection revealed that the boat was not even equipped with any flotation or lifesaving devices, in direct violation of California law, which requires that all pontoons longer than 16 feet be equipped with flotation devices,” it added.

The complaint also argues that there wasn’t "a single sign anywhere — not at the entrance, at the dock, at the popular swimming area of Diablo Cove, not anywhere — warning of the lake's strong currents, low visibility, high winds, changing water depths, underwater caves, ledges and drop offs, or the trees, brush and other debris that congest its waters due to the vastly changing water levels and winds."

According to the lawsuit, more than two dozen people have drowned in the lake since 1959, excluding Rivera. 

Representatives from the Parks and Recreation Management and the United Water Conservation District did not immediately return a request for comment. A spokesperson for Ventura County said the county has not been served with the lawsuit yet.


Rivera went missing after renting the boat on July 8. The lawsuit says the rental agent offered her a life vest but “she politely declined, as the vest was optional.”

After the boat was overdue for its return time three hours later, staff located the boat and Josey sleeping onboard. A search-and-rescue mission initially was launched before authorities declared Rivera as presumed to be dead the next day. Her body was found five days later. 

The lawsuit says that Rivera and Josey were in the water when the boat began to be carried away “likely by the current and wind” which reached up to 21 mph that day. 

“Josey, who was closer, managed to get back on the boat on his own volition and braced himself on the boat, which was rocking back and forth forcefully in the current and wind,” the complaint said. “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 rope to help his mother get back on the boat,” it continued. “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.”