Diego Stolz was a typical 13-year-old boy. He liked video games and playing soccer. He loved music and hiking. He did his best in school, and had a lot of friends. He was raised by his aunt and uncle after his parents died. He had a good life.
He was also the victim of constant bullying, and in the end, it killed him.
Dave Ring, partner at Taylor & Ring, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Juana and Felipe Salcedo, guardians of Diego Stolz, who died at the hands of his bullies at Landmark Middle School. Diego was struck by a student, despite his unwillingness to fight. His head hit a concrete pillar as he fell, leading to a traumatic brain injury from which he never regained consciousness. He died as a result of the injuries.
WARNING: The following video was recorded on a cellphone by a witness to Diego’s fatal attack. Its contents are graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.
What happened to Diego was a preventable tragedy and a crime
The Salcedos lodged several complaints with administrators at Landmark Middle School, telling them that Diego was being repeatedly bullied. On Thursday, September 12, 2019, Diego sought the help of his science teacher after being punched in the chest. The teacher informed the assistant principal that day; she claimed she would review the security footage to find the perpetrators, but she did not.
On Friday, September 13, 2019, the Salcedos’ adult daughter accompanied Diego to see the assistant principal, who said she knew who the bullies were, and that they would receive suspensions for their actions. The assistant principal also promised to switch around those boys’ schedules so they would not have any classes with Diego. When Diego returned to school on Monday, September 16, 2019, the bullies had not been suspended, and the security footage still had not been reviewed. Neither Diego nor his guardians were informed of this.
That same day, Diego was attacked by two bullies. The bullies walked away. Diego was rushed to a hospital and placed on life support.
Nine days later, he died.
Moreno Valley Unified School District must be held accountable
The terrible tragedy of what happened to Diego Stolz is not an outlier. The lawsuit asserts the following about Moreno Valley Unified School District:
The District has long history of student altercations on its campuses, including at Landmark Middle School, and a long history of doing little or nothing about those altercations. The District failed to enact any effective safety procedures to protect its students. The District failed to enforce its anti-bullying policies. The District negligently supervised its students. The District had a mandatory duty to properly supervise its students on campus, pursuant to the Education Code and other statutes and laws, yet failed to do so.
Moreno Valley Unified School District and Landmark Middle School failed Diego Stolz at every step. They knew he was being bullied, and they did nothing to protect him. And now he is dead, and his family is left grieving over an entirely preventable loss.
We cannot bring Diego back, but we will fight for justice for him, so that no other family ever has to suffer the way the Salcedos are suffering now.