MORENO VALLEY, Calif. - Nearly four years after 13-year-old boy Diego Stolz died from his injuries sustained during a fight at Landmark Middle School, the attorneys representing his family announced Wednesday they reached a $27 million settlement against the Moreno Valley Unified School District.
According to the lawsuit, Diego was the frequent target of bullying and the school district failed to protect him. This is now the largest bullying settlement in U.S. history.
The plaintiffs were listed as Diego’s legal guardians, Juana and Felipe Salcedo, and they were represented by Dave Ring and Neil Gehlawat of the Los Angeles-based law firm Taylor & Ring.
On Sept. 16, 2019, a fight took place at the middle school. Video of the fight was shared on social media that showed a teen punching Diego before another student punched him again. Diego’s head hit the concrete pillar as he fell to the ground. The first teen then punched him again before they ran away.
Diego was declared brain dead at an area hospital and on Sept. 25, 2019, health officials said he died from his injuries.
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- Moreno Valley student, 13, dies from injuries sustained during fight at middle school
- 2 students face voluntary manslaughter charge in fatal beating of 13-year-old at school in Moreno Valley
- 2 students arrested following fight that left boy in critical condition at Moreno Valley middle school
The tragedy shocked the Moreno Valley community as many parents demanded answers.
In 2020, the attorneys said Juana Salcedo filed "multiple complaints" at Landmark in the 2018-19 academic year and in the first month of the 2019-20 school year, but her concerns allegedly fell on deaf ears.
The civil complaint also stated Diego was consistently bullied by two to four boys.
The two 14-year-old students involved in the brutal beating were arrested and were in custody of Riverside County Juvenile Hall. They were initially arrested on suspicion of assault likely to produce great bodily injury. Later in the investigation, those charges were upgraded to voluntary manslaughter.
The following year, the charges were downgraded, and the two admitted their guilt.
In 2021, a judge said the two would not receive jail sentences. Instead, they were given 150 hours of community service and were required to "participate in various programs specifically tailored toward their rehabilitative needs."
In Sept. 2020, California Assembly Bill 2445 was passed that allows legal guardians to bring suit in civil claims involving a minor whose death may have stemmed from a wrongful or negligent act.