Last week a significant settlement was reached on behalf of the family of a 13-year-old Murrieta middle school student who tragically drowned while under the supervision of Murrieta Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) staff and personnel.
The family of Alex Pierce were represented by Panish Shea & Boyle LLP lawyers Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman. The plaintiffs were also represented in the case by Scott Liljegren of Liljegren Law Group. The team secured $11 million in a settlement, and in addition, MVUSD will implement changes to its otherwise non-existent School Safety Plan policies and procedures and has issued a letter of apology to the family for the circumstances that led to Alex’s death.
In June 2016, Alex Pierce attended a year-end party at the local high school, and was chaperoned by school staff and lifeguards. Video surveillance taken from the pool shows Alex slipped under the water and remained submerged for nearly two minutes with no rescue efforts by lifeguards, school district faculty or personnel. Alex’s classmates who brought him to the surface where two student lifeguards put him on a floating backboard and kept him in the pool for approximately seven minutes without performing any life-saving measures. Paramedics arrived and removed Alex from the pool, placed him on the deck with the backboard beneath him to administer CPR before transporting him to a nearby hospital. Due to the severity of his injuries, Alex was airlifted to a second hospital where he was placed on life support and remained in a coma until July 7, 2016, when Alex was declared brain dead and his family said their final goodbyes.
The case was Sabrina Pierce, et al v. Murrieta Valley Unified School District, et al in the Superior Court in the State of California, County of Riverside.
Alex’s death has led to significant changes to Murrieta Valley Unified School District policies and procedures in regards to the safety of its students, which include providing mandatory CPR training to all MVUSD faculty and obtaining a safety check of the District’s pool facilities by an independent third party. All training and pool safety compliance inspections must be completed by May 2020, with findings made publicly available on the MVUSD website. Additionally, the Pierce family and their attorneys are working with Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) to introduce a water safety and rescue training bill to be named in Alex’s honor.
Panish Shea & Boyle has had other substantial results this year. Visit here to read more.