Inside The Wrongful Death Suit Filed On Naya Rivera's Son's Behalf

Naya Rivera went missing while out on Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif., after renting a pontoon boat with her son on July 8, 2020. After an exhaustive search, Rivera's body was found on July 13, 2020, as confirmed by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, according to CBS News. Rivera's son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, was found on the boat, wearing a life vest and wrapped in a towel, asleep, according to the outlet. Rivera helped him get in the boat but couldn't get in the boat herself. Sheriff Bill Ayub reported that there was no life vest found on Rivera's body and there was an adult life vest found in the boat.

Rivera's death was a harrowing experience for those involved and, looked at in hindsight, her last social media post before she passed is almost cryptic, as it  pertained to her son. Rivera shared her son Josey, with her ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, whom she divorced in June 2018, according to People. The couple had joint custody of Josey and they obviously respected one another because Dorsey gave a touching tribute to Rivera after her passing.

And that's not all Dorsey is doing. TMZ announced on Nov. 18, 2020 that Dorsey is filing a wrongful death lawsuit with claims that the boat was unsafe. Here's the full story.

Ryan Dorsey claims Naya Rivera's boat was unsafe

Ryan Dorsey, ex-husband of Naya Rivera and father to her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, filed documents on Nov. 16, 2020 for a wrongful death lawsuit, according to Newsweek. Dorsey has filed on behalf of their son, "claiming Ventura County is responsible" for Rivera's death, per TMZ. The reason, according to Dorsey, is that the pontoon boat Rivera rented was unsafe. In the documents, filed by Dorsey's attorney, Amjad Khan, Dorsey says that the rental 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, nor any flotation or lifesaving devices," according to TMZ.

The fact that the pontoon boat wasn't supplied with an anchor was a major point that came up in the search for her body in Lake Piru. Sheriff Bill Ayub explained during a press conference that authorities believed the boat drifted away from Rivera and her son as they were swimming because it was unanchored, according to CBS News. Wind gusts were estimated to be around 21 mph the day Rivera drowned, according to the coroner's report (via the Los Angeles Times). But it wasn't just the boat itself that was the problem, according to Dorsey's lawsuit. He also says that swimmers should have more warning about how dangerous Lake Piru really is.

There weren't enough warnings about the dangers of Lake Piru

Naya Rivera's ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their son, Josey Hollis Dorsey. While Dorsey points out that the pontoon boat Rivera rented was not properly equipped with the necessary safety equipment, he also claims that swimmers need better warning about the hazards of swimming in Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif. Dorsey's lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times, claims that "the United Water Conservation District, which operates the lake, as well as Ventura County and the boat rental company" failed to sufficiently warn visitors about the risks of swimming in Lake Piru.

Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dyer spoke about how dangerous the lake was the day Rivera died. "We're talking during the day 8 to 10 inches of visibility in the lake, lots of debris, full-sized trees and debris under the water and varying depths," he said (via Page Six). "There's a lot of uneven terrain under the water which you guys don't see," Dyer added. Since these are the circumstances surrounding Lake Piru, Dorsey's lawsuit claims that visitors are not adequately warned about the dangerous characteristics of the lake, per Newsweek. In fact, shortly after Rivera's death, thousands of people signed a petition about the safety standards at Lake Piru.

Dozens of people have drowned in Lake Piru

Lake Piru formed as a result of St. Felicia Dam, according to the Los Angeles Times. Therefore, the lake is essentially a reservoir, which was formed in 1955 with the construction of the dam, according to the United Water Conservation District.

Since the lake formed, more than 26 people have drowned in its waters, according to Newsweek. The outlet notes that Lake Piru has thick vegetation beneath its surface that's often hidden from swimmers. Page Six adds that the temperature of the water in Lake Piru can get shockingly cold, making the situation "overwhelming" for swimmers.

In fact, the lake has such a dangerous history that, after Naya Rivera's death, a petition was created to demand better signs and warnings be put up around the lake for swimmers. As of this writing, the petition has gained over 50,000 signatures. The petition notes that Lake Piru is very deep, with strong whirlpools, and swimmers aren't always aware of this aspect. With such hazards revealed, it's no wonder Ryan Dorsey filed a wrongful death lawsuit.