Panish Shea & Boyle LLP is proud to announce Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) has selected PSB attorneys and school safety advocates Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman as 2019 Consumer Attorney of the Year finalists for their work on the firm’s landmark case Pierce v. Murrieta Valley Unified School District. The annual top honor is awarded to a CAOC member or members who significantly advanced the rights or safety of California consumers by achieving a noteworthy result in a case.
Co-counseling with Ravipudi and Glassman was Scott Liljegren of Liljegren Law Group who is also a Finalist for Consumer Attorney of the Year. The winners will be revealed at CAOC’s Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on November 16th, to be held in conjunction with CAOC’s Annual Convention at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California.
Rahul Ravipudi and Robert Glassman obtained an $11,000,000 settlement for the family of Alex Pierce, a 13 year old Dorothy McElhinney Middle School student who drowned in a high school pool during a year-end swim party with his classmates. The students were under the direct supervision of Murrieta Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) staff and personnel who chaperoned the outing as well as Murrieta Valley High School student lifeguards who were “on duty” watching over the kids as they swam. Video surveillance taken from the pool shows Alex slipped under the water and remained submerged for nearly two minutes with no rescue efforts by lifeguards, school district faculty or personnel. Instead, it was Alex’s classmates who brought him to the surface where two student lifeguards put him on a floating backboard and kept him in the pool for approximately seven minutes without performing any life-saving measures. MVUSD certified lifeguard and lifeguard instructor Keith Good, who was supervising students at the time, failed to aid in Alex’s rescue because he was “not on the clock” and knew his insurance would not cover him for getting involved.
Paramedics arrived and removed Alex from the pool, placed him on the deck with the backboard beneath him to administer CPR before transporting him to a nearby hospital. Due to the severity of his injuries, Alex was airlifted to a second hospital where he was placed on life support and remained in a coma for over one month until his family said their final good-byes.
In addition to the monetary settlement and as a condition of the agreement reached with the family, MVUSD will implement changes to its otherwise non-existent School Safety Plan policies and procedures and issued a letter of apology to the family for the circumstances that led to Alex’s death. The District will provide mandatory CPR training to all MVUSD faculty and obtain a safety check of the District’s pool facilities by an independent third party. All training and pool safety compliance inspections must be completed by May 2020, with findings made publicly available on the MVUSD website.
Currently, the Pierce family and their attorneys are leading the effort to pass bipartisan legislation by working closely with Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) on Assembly Bill 1214, referred to as “Alex’s Law,” requiring schools offering interscholastic athletic programs to have CPR-trained personnel at athletic events at all times and requiring school districts to offer CPR training to their employees. AB 1214 passed with unanimous bipartisan vote in the Assembly earlier this year, and will go before the state senate for vote in the fall.