Josey’s father, Ryan Dorsey, to whom Rivera was married from 2014 to 2018, and the late actress’ estate submitted the paperwork on the 5-year-old’s behalf on Tuesday, November 17. Josey is suing Ventura County, California, where his mother died in July, as well as United Water Conservation District and the county’s Parks and Recreation Management for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The complaint obtained by Us alleges that Rivera’s death was preventable and that the boat she and Josey had rented from Lake Piru did not comply with U.S. Coast Guard safety standards.
“[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.” (According to a report released by the Ventura County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, however, an employee found Josey “wearing a life vest.” Rivera did not have a vest on when her body was found.)
The suit 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.”
The documents also point to the lake’s “deadly history,” noting that “more than two dozen people have drowned” in it since 1959.
Rivera — who had “strong swimming skills,” according to the lawsuit — was declared a missing person after Josey, then 4, was found alone on their rented boat on July 8. After an extensive five-day search, the Step Up star’s body was found in the lake. She was 33.
After Rivera’s death, Dorsey, 37, moved in with her sister, Nickayla Rivera, to raise Josey together.
“She’s now the closest thing that he has to a mom,” the Ray Donovan alum said of Nickayla, 26, in an Instagram video in September.
Ventura County spokeswoman Ashley Bautista had no comment as the county has not yet been served with the complaint. Us Weekly has also reached out to United Water Conservation District.
With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez
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