Naya Rivera’s ex-husband is suing Ventura County and a number of other local departments for the wrongful death of the “Glee” standout on behalf of the former couple’s 5-year-old son, Josey, Fox News has confirmed.
Ryan Dorsey and Rivera’s estate filed the complaint on Tuesday in Ventura County Superior Court, claiming the 33-year-old actress’ death by accidental drowning was preventable.
The departments named in the suit, which was obtained by Fox News, include the County of Ventura, Ventura County Parks and Recreation Management, and United Water Conservation District – all of which are being sued for wrongful death and negligent emotional distress.
The complaint claims that “when Naya arrived at the Lake Piru Recreational Area, without a shred of information or warning about the dangerous conditions on the lake, she rented a pontoon boat,” the complaint stated. The rental process took minutes and did nothing to inform Naya of the dangerous conditions that can occur on the lake, including strong currents, winds and underwater debris, according to the complaint.
Rivera was offered a life vest by the rental agent who serviced her and Josey, adding that she “politely declined, as the vest was optional,” according to the complaint.
Furthermore, the filing maintains that the rental agent “did not warn Naya to wear the vest and instead merely put the vest in the rental boat. And an inspection and the rental agreement confirm the boat was not equipped with the lifesaver required by California law, according to the complaint.
The suit also alleges the pontoon boat Rivera rented on July 8 was “grossly underequipped.”
“[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 court documents claim. “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.”
Moreover, it also claims that based on “information and belief,” Rivera’s rented boat was “one of the older rentals available” and “had not been refurbished.”
On the boat, there was allegedly a sign that claimed that the boat complied with U.S. Coast Guard safety standards, but Dorsey refuted that because those safety standards require safety equipment such as a life preserver, according to the complaint.
Additionally, the court filing further alleges that Lake Piru did not have “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.”
Tragedies like Rivera’s death also haven’t escaped Lake Piru since it opened in 1959 as “at least 26 other people from children to fit adults to elders, some wearing life jackets and other not, have drowned in Lake Piru since its recreational facilities opened,” according to the complaint.
On July 13, Rivera’s body was found five days after her disappearance floating in an area of the lake that is about 30 feet deep. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said she was most likely trapped in thick vegetation underwater for several days before floating to the top.
Josey was immediately reunited with his father and other relatives.
Before her disappearance, Rivera tweeted a photo of her and Josey that read, “just the two of us.” In her memoir, she called Josey “my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him.”
Rivera was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles two weeks after her death on July 24, according to a death certificate obtained by People magazine at the time.
A spokesperson for Ventura County declined to comment as the county has not yet been served with the complaint. United Water Conservation District did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.