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California school district agrees to pay $27 million to settle lawsuit over death of 13-year-old assaulted by classmates

Moreno Valley Unified School District settles bullying-related lawsuit for $27 million

Moreno Valley Unified School District settles bullying-related lawsuit for $27 million


A Southern California school district has agreed to pay $27 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an eighth-grade boy who died after being assaulted by two other students at a middle school four years ago.

The settlement with the Moreno Valley Unified School District was announced Wednesday by attorneys for the relatives of Diego Stolz, 13, who was punched at Landmark Middle School in September 2019.

One of the teenagers hit him in the head from behind and he fell, hitting his head on a pillar. The teens then continued to beat Stolz, who died nine days later from a brain injury. The attack was recorded on video.

Dave Ring, the Stolz family’s attorney, said the family told the school their nephew was bullied and punched multiple times. CBS Los Angeles reported. The administration promised the family that the bullies would be suspended from school if nothing happened, the station reported.

“The Friday before Diego died, Diego and his adult sister went to meet with the vice principal,” Ring said. “They never did anything. They just put it at the bottom of their pile and said we’ll deal with it later.”

Ring said the boy’s death could have been avoided if there was an anti-bullying policy in place at the school located about 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

“Schools must understand that bullying can never be tolerated and that any complaints of bullying or assault must be taken seriously,” Ring said in a press release.

School officials would not comment on the settlement, district spokesperson Anahi Velasco said in an email Wednesday. The district previously said it had changed its bullying reporting system and employee training. The school’s principal and vice-principal were also replaced.

The family also inspired a new bill authored by Eloise Reyes Gomez, which allows legal guardians to file a civil suit in wrongful death cases, CBS Los Angeles reported.

The attackers, aged 14 at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty in children’s court to manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause serious bodily injury.

The teens spent 47 days in juvenile detention. A judge declined to sentence them to a longer prison term, but ordered them to undergo anger management therapy.


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