A Landmark Bullying Settlement: $27 Million Awarded to California Family
In a historic development, a California family has been granted a monumental $27 million settlement after their 13-year-old son fell victim to relentless bullying at school, resulting in his tragic death. This case, stemming from the wrongful death of Diego Stolz, represents the largest payout in the history of bullying-related lawsuits.
A Preventable Tragedy
Diego Stolz endured relentless bullying at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, California, leading to his untimely demise. Despite being targeted by bullies in the week leading up to his death, the school’s principal failed to follow through with promised suspensions, ultimately allowing the bullies to commit a fatal act of violence against Diego.
In September 2019, Diego was brutally assaulted by two of his tormentors at the school, resulting in a severe brain injury. Tragically, he never regained consciousness and passed away nine days later. Shockingly, his assailants, who have remained unidentified, pleaded guilty to manslaughter but were not sentenced to prison.
Legal Action and Landmark Settlement
In response to this devastating loss, Diego Stolz’s family took legal action by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Moreno Valley Unified School District on behalf of Diego’s legal guardians, his aunt and uncle, Juana and Felipe Salcedo. This lawsuit has now culminated in a groundbreaking $27 million settlement, marking a significant moment in the fight against bullying.
A Call for Change
The Stolz family’s attorney emphasized the importance of this case, stating that they hope it prompts change in school districts nationwide. They stressed the critical need for schools to prioritize anti-bullying policies and to take all reports of bullying and assault seriously. This tragedy, they believe, could have been prevented if the school had acted decisively.
Unfulfilled Promises and Missed Opportunities
Leading up to the fatal assault, Diego had been previously targeted by bullies, and these incidents were reported to the school’s administrators. However, the assistant principal, Kamilah O’Connor, failed to fulfill her promise of suspending the bullies. This breakdown in communication and action among school administrators played a crucial role in the tragic outcome.
The Settlement’s Impact on Schools
As part of the settlement, the Moreno Valley Unified School District has committed to additional training and the implementation of new protocols for addressing bullying. Attorneys for the victim’s family have described this monetary award as the largest bullying settlement in the United States.
Additionally, in the aftermath of Diego Stolz’s death, California passed Assembly Bill 2445, allowing legal guardians to file civil claims in cases involving a minor’s wrongful or negligent death, specifically inspired by Diego’s tragic story.
This case serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating consequences of bullying and the responsibility schools bear in protecting their students from harm. The Stolz family’s hope is that Diego’s legacy will lead to safer school environments for children across the nation.