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Crime News

Naya Rivera’s Ex-Husband Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The suit alleges that the county, as well as other local agencies, should be held responsible for Naya Rivera’s death.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Naya Rivera’s Death Ruled An Accident Drowning

The ex-husband of actress Naya Rivera has filed a wrongful death lawsuit months after her tragic drowning.

Ryan Dorsey is pursuing legal action against Ventura County in California, Parks and Recreation Management, and the United Water Conservation District, according to court documents filed Tuesday and obtained by PEOPLE. The suit, which was filed jointly by the actor as well as Rivera’s estate, is alleging wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Rivera vanished during a boating trip with her 5-year-old son, Josey, on July 3. The child was found drifting alone on a boat that evening, and authorities launched a search for the actress. She was found dead days later, on July 13, and an autopsy confirmed that she accidentally drowned in the lake. She was 33 years old.

The suit claims that there was not proper signage warning of the dangers of Lake Piru, and cited the multiple drowning deaths that have occurred over the years. The suit also claims that the pontoon boat lacked a “safely accessible ladder, adequate rope, an anchor, a radio or any security mechanisms to prevent swimmers from being separated from their boats,” according to PEOPLE.

Naya Rivera Ryan Dorsey G

"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," the suit continues.

When asked to comment about the suit, a representative for Ventura County told USA TODAY that they had not yet been served.

Following Rivera's passing, her family stated that she was a “strong swimmer,” a claim reiterated in the recent wrongful death suit. On the day that Rivera disappeared, winds in the area had reached up to 21 mph, which likely contributed to the pair’s boat drifting away from them while they were swimming, the suit claims, according to USA TODAY.

Rivera was able to get her son back to the boat, but not herself.

Rivera’s son witnessed his mother’s death, Dorsey's attorney, Amjad Khan, said in a statement obtained by USA TODAY.

"The lawsuit, investigation of which is ongoing, seeks to hold the defendants accountable for their negligence in causing Naya’s death and in causing Josey, who witnessed Naya’s drowning, to suffer serious emotional distress," that statement reads.

Dorsey, 37, was married to Rivera from 2014 to 2018, during which time they had one child, son Josey.

Following Rivera’s death, Dorsey shared his grief in an Instagram caption shared alongside a photo of Rivera and Josey.

“This is so unfair...there's not enough words to express the hole left in everyone's hearts,” his post reads, in part. “I can't believe this is life now. I don't know if I'll ever believe it. You were just here...”