Naya Rivera’s family says death lawsuit settlement will ‘significantly’ help her son

Naya Rivera smiling in a black shirt
Naya Rivera attends the 2018 YouTube Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena.
(Willy Sanjuan / Associated Press)

The family of Naya Rivera has reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit they filed, more than a year after the “Glee” actor accidentally drowned in Lake Piru during a boating trip with her son.

On Monday, an attorney representing Rivera’s estate released a statement announcing that “all parties have entered into a global settlement, which is subject to approval by the Ventura County Superior Court on March 16.” The attorney did not disclose the terms of the settlement.

In November 2020, the TV star’s ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey, filed a complaint accusing Ventura County, a boat rental company and the United Water Conservation District — which oversees Lake Piru — of failing to properly warn against the dangers of swimming in the lake or provide adequate safety equipment on the pontoon boat Rivera rented.

The actress, whose body was discovered Monday, disappeared last week during a boat outing with her young son.

July 14, 2020


Rivera and Dorsey’s then-4-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, was found alone on the boat shortly after his mother died at age 33. The performer was best known for portraying formidable cheerleader Santana Lopez in the hit musical series “Glee.”

“Through this settlement, Josey will receive just compensation for having to endure the drowning of his beloved mother at Lake Piru,” said Amjad M. Khan, a lawyer representing Rivera’s estate, in a statement provided Wednesday to the Los Angeles Times.

“Though the tragic loss of Josey’s mother can never truly be overcome, we are very pleased that the monetary settlement will significantly assist Josey with his life beyond this tragedy.”

Naya Rivera’s family sues Ventura County, water district over her Lake Piru drowning death

Nov. 18, 2020

In the lawsuit, Dorsey claimed the pontoon boat — which floated away from Rivera and her son before she drowned — was not outfitted with floatation devices or other lifesaving equipment. The coroner’s report, however, concluded that an adult-sized life vest was on a bench seat behind the boat’s driving area. Rivera’s son was also wearing a life vest when he was found.

The complaint also alleged that the boat did not have an anchor to keep it in place, nor a ladder or rope to help swimmers climb onto it. Additionally, water district officials and others allegedly failed to warn Rivera of the lake’s “deadly history” of drownings, according to court documents.


Naya Rivera, the actress best known as Santana Lopez on Fox’s hit musical TV series “Glee,” was found dead Monday after going missing last week on Lake Piru.

July 13, 2020

“Congratulations to our partner, [Khan], for securing this excellent and hard fought result on behalf of Josey Dorsey, son of beloved actress Naya Rivera,” Khan’s law firm tweeted Monday in response to the settlement.

“After nearly 2 years of litigation, grateful that our firm ... was able to bring this emotional matter to a close with a just and meaningful result for Josey.”

The United Water Conservation District did not immediately respond Wednesday to The Times’ request for comment. A representative for Ventura County declined to comment.