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Officials at Ventura County Parks and Recreation Management are reportedly refusing to accept any blame for actress Naya Rivera’s death, insisting the actress opted not to wear a lifejacket during her doomed boat trip. They’ve asked a judge to toss the wrongful death suit filed against them by members of Rivera’s family.
In a very public incident, Rivera drowned during a pontoon trip with her young son on Lake Piru in California last summer. Ryan Dorsey, Naya’s ex-husband, filed the complaint on behalf of their son. The young boy was found floating in the boat alone after the pontoon was not returned within the rental term.
County officials now claim that the star was offered a life jacket before her boat trip but decided not to wear one. According to legal documents quoted by Ace Show Biz, Ventura County officials filed a motion to strike down the ongoing wrongful death lawsuit, which claims that the boat that Rivera used was unsafe due to the lack of flotation devices. Officials claim this is untrue.
“Regardless of whether [the Rivera family] allege that the boat was not equipped with flotation devices, a life vest was present in the boat at the time of the incident,” the statement reads, noting that the Parks Management Company’s boat rental agent put the vest in the rental boat despite Rivera declining it.
At the time of the incident, Dorsey claimed Naya’s death was “utterly preventable,” and insisted the boat she 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.” He said a later inspection revealed the boat “was not even equipped with any flotation or life saving devices, in direct violation of California law.”
However, the document states: “Other than the lack of an anchor, no facts are alleged demonstrating how a lack of any of these things caused [Rivera’s] death. The pleading does not allege that Ms. Rivera died while attempting to climb back into the boat, and therefore a lack of a safety ladder did not cause her death. Rather, it is alleged that she had become separated from the boat. The only item missing from the boat which could actually have a causal connection to Ms. Rivera’s death was an anchor.”
The County’s stance on the actress’ death is that Rivera simply separated from her boat and struggled to return. They don’t believe it is of any fault of their own that she tragically passed away.
In California, the family of the deceased bringing a wrongful death claim must prove that the death was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of the defendant. The people bringing the suit must present evidence that there was a connection between the negligent act and the cause of death. If they are successful in doing so, then the allegations against the defendant would be considered more likely to be true than not true, which will result in the plaintiff recovering damages.