Family of 4 Year Old CA Drowning Victim Awarded Record $16M in Wrongful Death Suit

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The family of a four year old Santa Barbara California drowning victim was awarded $16 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club. It is thought to be the largest verdict in a drowning case in California’s history.

California Wrongful Death

This California wrongful deathcase involves four year old Yoni Gottesman. According to news reports, the boy was swimming at the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club in Santa Barbara, California in 2005. Staff at the club did not watch Yoni while he was in the pool with many other children and he drowned. His parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the club and were awarded a record $13.8 million in compensatory damages for the loss of the love and companionship of their son, as well as funeral and burial costs. It is thought to be the largest verdict in a drowning case in California’s history.

The Gottesman’s California personal injury lawyerwas also able to obtain $2.3 million in punitive damages for the family by showing that the owners of the club acted with “malice and oppression” by not taking the time to properly train lifeguards, operated a child day care center without a license and tried to avoid paying damages to the Gottesmans by fraudulently transferring the club’s assets right before the trial began. The latter of these was actually separated out of the the wrongful death case and will be tried separately.

Negligent Behavior

If your family has suffered a death that may have been caused by another’s negligent behavior, contact a personal injury attorney whose practice focuses in the area of wrongful death to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. However, before hiring an attorney, make sure to ask him or her what percentage of their practice is dedicated to wrongful death actions and what the outcomes of their recent cases have been.

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