Landmark Moreno

Moreno Valley (California) district will pay $27 million to settle suit over middle school student's beating death

Sept. 15, 2023
Diego Stolz, 13, was sucker-punched in September 2019 by two other students at Landmark Middle School; the boy died nine days later.

The Moreno Valley (CaliforniaUnified School District has agreed to pay $27 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of an eighth-grade boy who died after being assaulted in 2019 by two other students at a middle school.

The Associated Press reports that the settlement of the wrongful death suit was disclosed by lawyers for relatives of Diego Stolz, who was 13 years old when he was sucker-punched at Landmark Middle School in September 2019.

One of the teens struck the Diego in the head from behind and he fell, hitting his head against a pillar. The teens then continued punching the boy, who died nine days later from a brain injury.

Dave Ring, an attorney for the Stolz family, said the boy’s death would have been preventable if the school had an anti-bullying policy in place.

“Schools need to realize that bullying can never be tolerated and that any complaints of bullying and assault must be taken seriously,” Ring said in a news release.

School officials declined to comment on the settlement, district spokesperson Anahi Velasco said. The district said previously that it has changed its bullying reporting system and its training for employees. Since the attack, the school’s principal and vice principal have been replaced.

Diego's family contended in the suit that that the boy complained to the assistant principal that he was being bullied before the assault that killed him.

The assailants, who were 14 at the time of the attack, entered the equivalent of guilty pleas in juvenile court to involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.

The teens spent 47 days in juvenile custody. A judge declined to sentence them to more jail time, but ordered that they undergo anger management therapy.

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