$100 Million Lawsuit Filed Against California School After 13-Year-Old Dies From Bullying Incident
A 13-year-old boy at a Moreno Valley, California middle school died in September as a result of injuries sustained from a bullying incident — part of a history of abuse that took place over several years, according to the victim’s family. The victim, Diego Stolz, was reportedly attacked and punched repeatedly by a group of boys on September 16th. One of the blows Stolz sustained caused him to fall and strike his head on a concrete pillar.
He suffered traumatic injuries and was eventually pronounced brain dead. The following week, Stolz was removed from life support and died nine days later. The family of Diego Stolz says that the incident could have been avoided, as the boy had lodged multiple complaints with teachers and administrators seeking assistance over the bullying.
The $100 million lawsuit, which was filed last month, is against the Moreno Valley Unified School District for wrongful death and civil rights violations. Members of the victim’s family contend that, in addition to Diego’s requests, their own pleas to address the bullying were largely ignored, citing Diego’s aunt, Juana Salcedo, having filed multiple complaints.
Attorney David M. Ring, of the Taylor & Ring personal injury firm in Los Angeles, is representing the victim’s family. Ring expressed extreme disappointment over the death of Stolz, and stated to KCAL, “It is appalling that the school, which is supposed to protect its students, failed to address aggressive bullying that was occurring on its school grounds, even after multiple complaints were made.”
Ring added, “This gross incompetence by the school and its administrators led to the death of a young boy, who was subjected to horrific abuse while the administrators looked the other way,” and noted multiple examples where intervention should have taken place, stating, “They [various officials from MVUSD] were told by a teacher, by Diego’s older sister Jazmin, and by Diego himself.”
Anahi Velasco, a Moreno Valley Unified spokeswoman, indicated that the district is not liable for Stolz’s unfortunate death, but told KCAL, “To be clear, there is no place for bullying in our schools and acts of violence will not be tolerated.” In a public statement issued by the school district, Velasco insisted, “The two boys who attacked and killed Diego are responsible for this death.”
The Desert Sun reported that MVUSD recently announced broad changes intended to curtail bullying incidents in their schools. Those changes include:
-Establishing an online complaint process for students and parents
-Establishing a set of guidelines that identify prohibited behaviors
-Creating a phone number that students and parents may call anytime they want to flag acts of aggression, verbal or physical
Instances of bullying continue to be rampant, however, as six Moreno Valley Unified middle school students have been arrested in additional incidents since Stolz’s death.
David Ring dismissed the changes to school policy as a delayed reaction to a systemic issue that needs to be addressed in greater detail and include participation of all administrators, teachers, and students.
In connection with Stolz’s death, two boys have been charged with voluntary manslaughter and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.